We often talk about healthy eating habits at Ahimsa. Well, we are a dinnerware company after all! However, nutrition is just one part of the bigger picture of health and wellness. We must not forget other important factors like exercise, sleep, mindfulness and play when we think about a holistic approach to our child's health. I'll focus on physical activity today.
I understand. It's the winter. It's cold, dark, children are in remote learning and some cities are in lockdown due to rising cases of COVID-19. How can you possibly think of exercise? Well - just like everything else this year, we need to get creative. The good news is that physical activity for children can be as simple as PLAY. That's right. Playing indoors or bundling up and still playing outside in cold weather - that is your child's exercise. How fabulous is that? Brainstorm with your child on games that require physical activity this winter. Kids happen to be the most creative and innovative people on the planet. They may just create a magical obstacle course in your home ... and YOU will also raise your heart rate by completing it!
Here is some great information based on the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement on physical activity.
What exercises should children do?
Physical activities should be age-appropriate, diverse and most importantly – fun! The AAP describes the FITT method (frequency, intensity, time and type) to remember how to stay active.
Frequency: kids should be physically active every day
Intensity: activities should be moderate; aim for at least three times a week for activities to be vigorous (enough to make you breath hard and sweat).
Time: Kids ages 6 and older should engage in 60 minutes of physical activity over the course of a day. Toddlers and preschoolers should have at least 180 minutes throughout the day.
Type: Aerobic exercises would include walking, dancing, hiking, jogging, biking, swimming and skating. Muscle strengthening helps to strengthen major muscle groups. Pushups, tree climbing, monkey bars and tug-of-war all work kid’s muscles! Lastly, bone-strengthening exercises like basketball, jumping rope, gymnastics and tennis all help tone and build muscles and bone mass.
Remember that play is the best form of exercise. Give your child plenty of unstructured playtime to run, dance, climb, and kick and throw balls … let them burn off that energy while having loads of fun!
What exercises can children and parents do together?
You can take a family bike ride, play catch or tag, kick a soccer ball or have a dance party. Pack a picnic and go hiking together to enjoy the outdoors. Children who see their parents enjoying physical activity are more likely to do so themselves. Your children will learn how to be active from you!
What are the benefits of exercise for children?
Studies have shown that physical activity promotes a healthier cardiovascular system, develops motor skills and coordination, builds healthy bones and muscles and improves self-confidence and self-esteem. Outdoor play, in particular, helps to build spatial awareness, balance and can improve a child’s attention span.
Do parents benefit from exercising with their children?
Modern parenting often involves busy schedules, balancing work and home life, and daily stresses. By spending time together and playing with your children, you are bonding through shared experiences all while receiving the physical and mental benefits of regular exercise yourself.
How does family exercise affect the relationships between family members?
Adults and children who exercise have a greater ability to handle stress and show improvements in self-confidence and self-esteem. Family exercise also allows for numerous opportunities for parents and siblings to motivate and encourage each other – after all, the first team we are ever part of is our family.
So go on ... get up and move with your kids today!
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