I had the pleasure of leading a very special group fitness class this month. Participants got to sprout like trees, fly like birds, swing like monkeys, run like lions, crawl like bears, jump like frogs, lumber like elephants and slither like snakes. No, this wasn't another novel version of a boot camp, but a Kid Fit class at my youngest son's preschool. While coaching and corralling 20 three- and four-year-olds is like herding cats, the end result was achieved: to get these kids moving, and to instill a love for fitness through age-appropriate, play-based exercise.
The need to develop foundational habits of wellness in children is more important than ever. Why? Because America's kids are fatter and more sedentary than ever. To raise awareness of the obesity epidemic among children, September has been designated National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Consider these startling facts and statistics:
The Centers for Disease Control report that childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being.
Immediate health effects:
Long-term health effects:
Beyond the health implications, childhood obesity carries a heavy price tag. Overweight and obesity in childhood is associated with $14.1 billion in additional prescription drug, emergency room and outpatient visit healthcare costs annually. And because many overweight children, without intervention, become obese adults, the health care costs just skyrocket from there.
Just as in adults, the CDC explains that, "Overweight and obesity are the result of 'caloric imbalance'—too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed—and are affected by various genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors."
So what are some things parents and caregivers can do to prevent obesity and support healthy growth in children?
With all of this in mind, our very best solution for improving the health of our kids is to set an example and live a healthy lifestyle ourselves. No, that doesn't mean you have to lead a crazy Kid Fit class at your child's school! But if we eat nutritious foods and only stock good stuff in our homes, if we make time to exercise (and involve them), if we make sleep a priority, and if we limit screen and device time, we will be modeling the kinds of behaviors we wish for our children so that they may grow into healthy adults.
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Molly is a wife, mom,
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I am not a registered dietitian, nor a medical professional. My blog is a representation of my views and experiences, which are not intended as medical advice. While I am a certified personal trainer, descriptions of things I eat and exercises I perform may not be suitable for everyone. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.