Today’s kids are soooo different from when I was a kid in the 70’s! Physical Education in school was never questioned. In elementary school we had recess and lunch time to play sports and PE everyday and then we went home to play “kick the can” and “socco” (A game like dodge ball) with the neighborhood kids! We were active all day long!
Then we went to Junior High (that was what we used to call Middle School) and High School and PE was required 5 days a week from 7th – 12th grades. Running that mile around the school was a daily commitment, but we did it and it paid off (for most of us anyway!!!) Nintendo and computer games were non-existent and we weren’t even allowed to watch TV during the day, so we had to keep active or we’d be bored out of our minds!
But today’s kids don’t have PE in elementary school because the teachers don’t want to teach it. Then they have to take it in middle school and are completely out of shape and stumped when it comes to taking the state exercise tests. Then when they get to high school it is only required to take 2 semesters of Physical Education. And in 4 years of high school chances are most kids would choose not to take it as an elective, so the end result is overweight kids leading to overweight adults! ” And being overweight can then lead to obesity which in turn can lead to diabetes and high cholesterol.
My solution to this problem has to start with you, the PARENTS!!!!!
Please, PARENTS, make your kids active. Sign them up for gymnastics, dance, soccer, basketball etc…. If your kids aren’t getting the physical education that they absolutely need in the schools, then they need outside influences to make them understand how important it is for their future! Don’t let them become couch potatoes by watching cartoons or playing their Wii all day long. I am a mother myself, I know it’s not easy and that you work, but if you make the time for this, your kids will too! My daughter took gymnastics, ballet and tap dance as a child. She came to my schools with me while I taught gymnastics and participated in the class. Now at 21 she still participates in some form of activity as it became a way of life for her.
Another important aspect of keeping your kids fit is to teach them to EAT RIGHT!
It’s amazing the foods kids eat these days and they actually think it’s nutritious. I spend my summers working with kids, teaching gymnastics and dance camps. I sit with them while they eat lunch and when I see what is stuffed into those cute little lunch boxes…..I almost pass out! Cookies and chips, rice krispy treats, fruit rolls, make our own pizza on a cracker etc… and juices filled with hundreds of grams of sugar and fat! There was not one ounce of protein or anything of nutritious value to eat!
What happened to the days of tuna, turkey or egg salad sandwiches, an apple or banana and some wheat thins? Is this a lunch of the past? Even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is more nutritious and has protein in it! But not 1 kid had a sandwich let alone a piece of fruit! The amount of fat grams that today’s kids are consuming in one lunch is close to 100 grams not to mention the sugar grams (which turns itself into fat). If this trend continues, these kids will grow up weighing 200 pounds each (unless of course there will a few who will be lucky enough to have fast metabolisms!).
Again please try to learn the important aspects of healthy eating (see my article on “How To Read a Food Label” for your children’s sake as well as your own. There is plenty of literature on this subject all over the internet.
SEE the following web sites for information on kids and nutrition
MyPlate for Kids – for fantastic information on steps to healthier weight in kids ages 2 -5 and 6-11
Healthy Youth – Childhood Obesity by the CDC- National Center for Chronic Disease and Health Promotion
Just use common sense in reading food labels. It’s really very simple. And please try to keep your kids as active as possible. Take them out to play catch, take them bike riding, roller blading, hiking or just a 30 minute walk in the park, etc… And what’s most important…DO IT WITH THEM!!! Show them that you can be active too! Kids usually look up to their parents and emulate them. Like the old saying goes…
“THE APPLE DOESN’T FALL FAR FROM THE TREE”.