Promoting Healthy Habits for Your Child

The human body needs nutritious food and regular exercise to maintain health. While adults might embrace this directive, kids need to learn these habits. Learning the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods can help kids make better nutrition choices. Both adults and children can benefit from finding ways to incorporate physical activity into a daily schedule. Developing healthy habits during childhood is important for kids' short-term well-being, and these healthy habits can have a positive impact in the long term, too. Children who exercise and eat a nutritious diet may be more likely to carry these habits over into adulthood, lessening their risk of developing serious diseases and health issues later in life.

Importance of Exercise

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, kids should be getting at least one hour of physical activity every day. This cardiovascular exercise can include any type of activity at a moderate level that elevates the heart rate. Running, jumping, brisk walking, or playing an active sport are examples of ways that children can incorporate this type of activity into a daily schedule. Exercise that builds muscle is also important for health. Participating in organized activities such as gymnastics or dance lessons would be ideal for building and using muscles. Even when kids play outdoors, they often get beneficial exercise that counts toward the one-hour minimum of daily activity. Playing tag at recess or climbing on playground equipment are examples of physical activities that raise the heart rate and use different muscle groups.

Incorporating Exercise Into a Family Lifestyle

When parents set a good example, kids may be more likely to be active, too. Scheduling family activities such as hiking, bike-riding, swimming, or even just walking the dog provides great opportunities to spend time together as a family doing physically active things. Most families probably have specific sports or activities that they enjoy. To increase a family's activity level, parents should think about the individual interests of family members. For example, a family that likes swimming or biking could begin doing these things together on a regular basis. Even excursions such as bowling, skating, or playing miniature golf can provide beneficial exercise that the whole family might enjoy. An active family can benefit not only by spending quality time together, but every member will also get exercise that's good for their health. Kids who learn that exercise is fun might also be more likely to continue to exercise throughout life.

Dangers of Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has become a prevalent problem. At a national level, childhood obesity rates have tripled during the past 30 to 40 years. Several trends are likely to be contributing to increased obesity in children, such as more sedentary lifestyles and diets that contain more refined sugars and grains. Obese children are more likely to struggle with a number of issues. Emotionally and psychologically, these kids could have trouble with low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Children are not immune to the physical issues of obesity, either. Some of these health problems might not occur until adulthood, but children could experience health issues such as abnormal glucose tolerance, high blood pressure, asthma, and sleep apnea. Some of these health issues were confined to adulthood in the past, but more children are now experiencing them. When obese children reach adulthood, they are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. Stigmas attached to obesity could even affect learning and academic achievement for children.

Nutrition Guide

Children's diets are vitally important for their immediate and long-term health. While it's typical for kids to gravitate toward the foods that taste good to them, many natural and healthy food options can also be delicious. Stocking the kitchen with healthy foods and snack items will help kids learn how to choose foods that are both satisfying and healthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt, low-fat cheese, whole-grain breads, and low-sugar cereals are a few staples to purchase that will likely appeal to children. Teaching kids to eat foods that are naturally the colors of the rainbow is another positive way to help incorporate healthy fruits and vegetables into a family's diet. Learning how to read nutrition labels is another important skill to teach kids. Labels show the ingredients of foods as well as serving sizes, calories, and percentages of nutrients. Choosing foods with lower sugar, sodium, fat, and cholesterol often results in more nutritious eating. Eating foods high in calcium and vitamin D will also help ensure that kids' bones remain strong. Some of these foods include yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, almonds, canned tuna, and fortified cereal.