Over the past 30 years, obesity has more than doubled in America’s children and quadrupled among adolescents. Childhood obesity is affected by many factors including behavior, genetics, diet, and environment. It truly comes down to a “caloric imbalance,” meaning that too few calories are used considering those that are consumed. Childhood obesity has both short-term and long-term effects such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, joint problems, and lower self-esteem.
Obese children and adolescents are far more likely to be obese as adults. Obesity in adults is accompanied with many of the same risks as obesity in children as well as significantly higher rates of cancer. Healthy diet and staying active are of vital importance if we hope to combat obesity in today’s youth. One of the most effective and fun ways to fight childhood obesity is through play and sports.
Soccer is a fun, easy, and inexpensive way to help improve kids’ fitness levels, speed, agility, and stamina. Some of the benefits of soccer include that it requires very little equipment, just a relatively small area is needed, and the basic rules are straightforward and easy for even young children to grasp. Soccer helps encourage teamwork and cooperation, while also introducing the idea of competitiveness in a fun way. Finding a soccer league is typically pretty easy, as most communities offer soccer teams for all different ages and skill levels. It is a good idea to always keep a soccer ball in your car, as organizing a quick pick up soccer game at a playground is easy and fun.
Swimming is a great source of cardiovascular exercise for kids and adults alike that improves muscle tone, heart health, and endurance. Private swim lessons in NYC or your area are so beneficial for multiple reasons, such as fitness, safety, and socialization. Every child should have the basic ability to swim, as it could end up saving their life. Beyond the potential life-saving benefits, there are plenty of competitive swimming and diving opportunities. Swimming is a great sport for kids that are unable to participate in high impact sports, as it is very low impact and easy on the joints.
Dancing is a great way to encourage kids to be active, and it requires zero equipment, no special space, and absolutely no special training is required. Crank up whatever kind of music you enjoy, and get moving. Dance parties are fun for people of all ages, sizes, skill and fitness levels. If you do have a child that loves dancing, joining a private or group class may be fun and encouraging, but no training is required to get started. Dancing is so much fun, your kids will be exercising without even realizing it.
Riding a bicycle is a great way for kids to stay healthy and active in a high energy, low impact way. With the exception of a bicycle and helmet, no special equipment is required. Kids will stay active, burning calories, building muscle, and increasing stamina while riding around the neighborhood and socializing with their friends. It’s a great activity for kids that do not enjoy competition or organized sports, but want to stay active.
While these suggestions give a good place to start when thinking about getting your child moving, the important thing is that they are active. Especially at a young age, sports should not be a point of frustration or angst. Try to find an activity that keeps them active and smiling. They will be far more likely to stick with it if they have fun doing it. Encouraging kids to be active at a young age will help to foster a lifetime of healthy decisions.