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Article Archive >> Good Health

Working Out with Kids: Do What YOU Like! Part Two

Working Out with Kids: Do What YOU Like! Part Two

...continued from the 10-2 article in the Picket News.
Family health values: Perhaps the most reliable of defenses is a schedule. You probably have set times for your kids to do certain things. Wake-up is at 7.
Bedtime is at 8:30. Piano lessons are at 3:30, but only on Tuesdays. Things that are important get put onto the schedule. Less important things get "worked in" whenever possible. Homework gets done right after school; chores after homework; if kids want to play video games or watch TV, that comes after the necessities are taken care of, right?
More than three-quarters of kids get some physical activity in their unstructured "free time." But if you just slightly change the family's perspective on those important activity times, and actually put it on your family's schedule of essentials, you're making a statement of values, sending a message to the whole family that physical health is important. A bike ride can still take its place behind other, more time- certain activities like homework, but it should certainly make it onto the schedule ahead of vegging out in front of the television. If it's a scheduled segment of the day, we find it's easier for kids to embrace regular activity as a fun responsibility rather than as just another option competing for some of their free time.
Group play: Small children naturally enjoy movement and physical play. In fact, it can be hard to contain their activity sometimes. Nearly 40 percent of kids aged 9 to 13 are involved in team or group activity, but studies show that by the time most American kids are 15, they're no longer interested in starting sports. But if you've already built in a healthy habit, team activities provide excellent support for continuing that habit, because they come couched in their own little social structures of players and parents and other boosters who also appreciate the particular activity involved.
Parents are more likely to make sure a kid gets to practice or shows up for a class or game if the child is involved in a group activity, because we tend to be more accountable and consistent with group activities than independent ones, and the potential for pleasant social contacts offers additional enticement for both parents and kids alike. As with any group endeavor, sporting activity offers kids the opportunity to hone their work ethic, their team spirit, and their dependability. No one wants to let their peers down, so kids learn the importance of following through on their commitments, and parents can reinforce the notion for their kids that the responsibility isn't only to their team-mates, but actually to their own well-being, too.
And of course, kids bonded through the camaraderie of team sports often form fast friendships, and no exercycle can offer that.
Through Thick & Thin: You have time for what you make time for. Scheduling your child's activity time into the day doesn't mean that it won't get set aside sometimes anyway, but that sort of dismissal is less likely to happen if it's on the regular agenda. If you don't want the workout to get left out, don't leave it to just be "worked in."

Dr. Caroline J. Cederquist is a board certified Family Physician and a board certified Bariatric Physicians (the medical specialty of weight management).

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