New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper


Get Off the Couch! – Getting Kids to Exercise

With a world full of technology it’s often hard to tear your child away from the glowing screens of computers, cell phones and TVs, but with childhood obesity rates more than tripling in the past 30 years, it’s important to start now.

The consequences of childhood obesity include high blood pressure, asthma, low self-esteem, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems and diabetes; all were virtually unheard of in kids just a few decades ago. In fact, type 2 diabetes, which was formerly known as adult-onset diabetes, has been increasingly seen in children and adolescents over the last 2 decades.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 151,000 people below the age of 20 have diabetes. The increase in health complications related to obesity can no longer be ignored. So how can parents and caregivers help prevent this from occurring in their own children? Here is a list of ideas that parents can use to get their children to exercise:

  1. Start Early. Children are naturally active, so tap into this energy while they’re young and establish good exercise habits.
  2. Provide Appropriate Activities. Make sure that the activities you provide are not only age appropriate, but also match your child’s physical and emotional levels. For example, a child with a fragile self-image may not do best playing in competitive sports.
  3. Don’t Be Too Overprotective. Safety is important but stopping him from riding his bike every time he falls is unrealistic. Helmets and elbow pads are a must when riding a bike but make sure you’re not putting your child in a bubble.
  4. Make Time for Family Fitness. Let’s face it, it’s harder for kids to be motivated to go outside and play when you’re sitting in front of the TV watching the latest soaps. So make time as a family to walk to the park, take a hike together or ride bikes around the block.
  5. Offer Plenty of Encouragement. Children will not only feel good about themselves and what they’re doing, but they’ll also be more likely to continue being active.
  6. Reward in the Right Way. If your child’s team wins the soccer game, have a pool party instead of ordering pizza. Healthy eating habits are just as important as exercising.

Exercise has proven time and time again to be one of the best ways in preventing diseases. So be proactive in getting your child up off the couch and outside running around. Remember, active children are more likely to become active and healthy adults. Help them to instill good exercise habits they can carry for the rest of their lives before they grow up too fast.