Friday, July 25, 2014

Let’s Keep the Kids Active!

Written by Alexis D’Ascenzo CPT, UIC Dietetic Student



When I became a nanny to numerous families starting in 2009 I realized more and more that children today are not playing outside as much as when children used to when I was growing up. I remember the days where I would wake up early to eat my breakfast as fast as I possibly could so I could play outside until the sun went down with my friends just to start it all over again the next day.

However nowadays due to the increased accessibility and popularity of iPhones, iPads, or video games children are not as active as they should be. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012 more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Overweight is defined as having excess body weight for a particular height from fat, muscle, bone, water, or a combination of these factors. Obesity is defined as having excess body fat.

As a personal trainer, I strongly believe in encouraging children and adolescents to participate in physical activity daily whether that is walking the dog, or riding a bike. At the end of the day remember anything is better than nothing! In order to decrease the increasing overweight and obesity rates it is crucial for children to meet their physical activity recommendations of one hour or more daily. With this being said, it is important to encourage physical activities that are age appropriate for your children and adolescents as their interests will vary greatly.

Tips for increasing physical activity:

  • Provide accessibility to a health club or gym membership
  • Provide your children equipment that encourages physical activity
  • Encourage your child to join a sports team or club
  • Make physical activity apart of your daily family routine such as bike rides in the morning, or walking the dog together
  • Accessibility to bike trails, baseball fields, or a pool for swimming
  • Be a positive example by leading an active lifestyle yourself
  • physical activity FUN by incorporating anything your child enjoys such as skateboarding, rollerblading, or jump roping


Friday, July 11, 2014

Keep kids active during summer break

Keeping Kids Active During Summer Break

                Summer is in full swing and kids are enjoying their break from school before starting another year.  Unfortunately, getting away from the structure of the school day results in many children spending their new found free time on the couch playing video games or watching television.  A 2007 study in the American Journal of Public Health reported that the body mass index (BMI) of more than 5,000 kindergartners and 1st graders increased by twice as much during summer break than during the school year.  It is well known that weight gain can affect children’s health both physically and mentally, so what can you do to keep your child active and healthy this summer?

                Turn off the T.V.!  Limit the amount of time your child spends watching television or playing on electronic devices by giving them a set time when these activities are appropriate, or better yet, use these activities as a reward for participating in some form of aerobic exercise that day. Experts recommend 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a day, but this can be spread out over the course of the day while still achieving the health benefits.

                Make a calendar that your child is in charge of that marks the things that they are going to do that week.  Before they go to bed at night, sit down and help them write down the activities that they want to accomplish the next day.  This will give them some of the structure they had in school but also gives them control and will make them more likely to participate.

                Keep sporting equipment and toys easily accessible in the house or garage.  Tennis rackets, basketballs, hula hoops, and baseball gloves are more likely to be used if they are seen and available.

                Make it a family affair!  Children are more likely to be healthy and active if their parents are setting an example.   Going to the pool together or riding bicycles is not only great exercise, but is also fun way to spend time with each other.

                See what activities your community has to offer.  Summer sports programs, day camps, and outings are sometimes an affordable way to get your child active and meeting new friends!

                So, get them off the couch and moving!  They will start the new school year healthier and happier and never say the summer was wasted.