Exercising with Kids: It Can be Child’s Play!

By Laurette Willis –

We all know how important exercise is to our child’s growth and physical development. Lack of exercise is partly responsible for the growing childhood obesity epidemic in our culture.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S., the percentage of overweight children aged 6-11 years has almost doubled since the early 1980’s. The percentage of overweight adolescents has risen by nearly 300 percent!

The trend seems to be affecting pre-school children, too. From 1994 to 2001, overweight among children aged 2-5 years, increased by 42 percent.
Considering that overweight children often become overweight or obese adults who model poor dietary and exercise habits to their children, this destructive cycle will continue until people decide to break it.

What’s the Answer?

Get moving!

In addition to eating more healthful unprocessed foods from a wide variety of sources, exercise is vital to growing bodies. Toddlers require 30 minutes of structured physical activity every day, and an additional 60 minutes of playtime is also recommended.

Since we all want to be good role models for our children, making fitness a part of our daily routine will benefit them–and us at the same time! You can break the overweight cycle and start a new fitness tradition in your family.

Activities with Infants and Young Children

Spring will be here before we know it. Go outdoors and enjoy being active in the backyard, local neighborhood or park. This gives little ones the opportunity to interact with their environment, too.

Stroll-Along: Stroller exercise classes and groups are growing in popularity. A search on the internet will help you find a group near you. While it may seem that Mom is getting more of a workout than baby, it’s also a great way for you to interact with other mothers in your area. StrollerFit has classes at YMCAs and other locations across the U.S. (see http://strollerfit.com).

Of course you don’t need a group to stroll along! You can also take your baby out in a baby sling or carrier and take a brisk walk around the neighborhood.

I Can Dig It! Playgrounds with sandboxes enable baby to play outdoors in the sand with his own toys and you don’t have to worry about him falling on the hard ground. Bring a bucket and shovel and help build the castle of your dreams!

Mommy and Me Exercise Classes: Check to see if there are exercise groups in your area that encourage mother/child participation.
If You Plant It, It Will Grow! Don’t have a garden? Perhaps the local school has an area in need of some flowers. Does your neighborhood have a community garden? Toddlers will enjoy watching the plants grow, and you’ll get a good workout, too.

Catch, Jump, Bark and Dance! Indoor fun can be as simple as rolling a ball back and forth or playing “catch” or “kick the ball.” Depending on your child’s age, a mini-basketball came is fun, as is jumping rope to simple rhymes. Make believe you are different animals. Say the name of the animal, and then both of you move and sound as if you were that animal. Wanna dance? Turn up the music–and shake it loose (dancing is GREAT exercise and lots of fun, too)!

Incorporate Scripture: Faith and fitness are a great combination. Playtime is an ideal opportunity to include simple memory verses such as, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). A Bible promise book is a good resource. While playing “catch,” say part of a Bible verse. Have your child complete the verse. Act out the historical accounts of Noah, Jonah, Daniel, David and Goliath, the parting of the Red Sea, and the parables of Jesus. While doing sit-ups, toe-touches and push-ups, recite Bible promises to keep “pumped up”!

Lastly, have fun! You have the opportunity to show your child that it feels good to move our bodies–the bodies God gave us to care for and enjoy. You can break the cycle of childhood obesity in your generation and see your grandchildren and great-grandchildren become fit witnesses for Christ!

Christian Fitness Expert Laurette Willis is the Director of PraiseMoves Fitness Ministry, http://praisemoves.com. Go to her website for the new “Power PraiseMoves” DVD trailer, the free “Fit Favorites Devotional” and PraiseMoves FitNews. To follow Laurette on Twitter visit http://twitter.com/Fit4Christ and on FaceBook: http://facebook.com/praisemoves.See “PraiseMoves Kids” TV Show every Thursday @ 3:30 p.m. EST on TBN’s Smile of a Child Network and LIVE @ http://smileofachildtv.org  © 2010

About Laurette Willis

Christian Fitness Expert Laurette Willis is the Director of PraiseMoves Fitness Ministry (http://PraiseMoves.com, and on Facebook http://facebook.com/PraiseMovesFan). Get your free kit at http://ChristianFitnessKit.com. © 2011

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