Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Importance of Exercise For Children

Why is it important for children to do cardio exercises? Because researchers have discovered that just twenty minutes of doing things like jumping, hopping, or even having an old-fashioned wheel barrow race works the musculoskeletal system enough to improve strength by as much as 75%! The more muscle mass kids have the higher their metabolism, which means strength training has the extra benefit of keeping weight in check. There are three elements essential to optimal physical fitness: endurance, strength and flexibility. Pull-ups and other exercises help tone and strengthen muscles while building flexibility. When kids use activities like climbing they are also developing strength and balance. Reaching and stretching are also activities that develop flexibility. Endurance comes through active play or aerobic activity. Getting stronger and improving ability to accomplish more physical activities helps preschoolers and kindergartners gain confidence and increase feelings of self worth.

All exercise that gets the heart pumping counts as a cardio workout - here's a list to help you and your children get started:

1. Skipping rope - it burns more calories per minute than almost any other type of aerobic exercise.

2. Running around - playing with the dog or running from the bottom of a slide back to the top are great ways to get little hearts pumping (works for mom or dad too!)

3. Swimming in a pool - exercise in water adds up to 12 times the resistance to the movement process plus swimming builds endurance and strength.

4. Jumping in a bouncy house - just sounds like lots of fun but it also provides great aerobic exercise while helping improve balance and coordination.

5. Climbing and swinging - builds muscle strength and coordination and hanging by one's knees is a terrific way to get a new look at the world.

Healthy eating choices are an important part of any get fit program. Be sure to make part of the program family meals. Sitting down for family dinner is not just good for you because you are consuming more vegetables and vitamins. A growing body of research shows that sitting down together for dinner on a regular basis not only teaches kids how to develop healthy eating habits, it may also make for happier children who are less apt to smoke, drink, do drugs or get into extreme weight control activities.

Getting started is the hardest part of any change in lifestyle but if parents and children take part in activities everyone can enjoy - biking, skating, swimming - it all get easier after that. Keep everyone challenged by stepping up the routine difficulty level. As the body becomes used to doing similar exercise activities over and over, they get easier to do so the body isn't working as hard. The result is that you expend less energy and slow down weight loss or muscle building. Vary the routine to see your body respond to the challenge and keep progressing. We know that it isn't easy to encourage healthier living today but instilling good heart-healthy habits lessens your kids' risk of developing grown-up type health issues at an early age.

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