Happy New Year! Resolving to Bring Fun Physical Activity to Kids

January 03, 2008

by Jean Saunders, HSC School Wellness Director

Happy New Year!

With the beginning of a new year come New Years Resolutions! Fitness goals or resolutions showed up on every list of popular resolutions that I’ve seen. The USA.gov site lists some of the most popular resolutions (along with practical resources for sticking to them):

  • Pay Off Debt
  • Save Money
  • Get a Better Job
  • Get Fit
  • Eat Right
  • Get a Better Education
  • Drink Less Alcohol
  • Quit Smoking Now
  • Reduce Stress Overall
  • Reduce Stress at Work
  • Take a Trip
  • Volunteer to Help Others

There are plenty of good reasons to resolve to make regular exercise a part of our daily routines – either on its own or as a way to help achieve other resolutions such as getting fit or reducing stress. A Google search of “the benefits of exercise” today generated more than 1.6 million results; when I added “for children,” I came up with 300,000 results!

With no shortage of information about the benefits of exercise to our children’s health and their ability to learn – and with thousands (no, millions!) of us setting activity goals and resolving to get more exercise – still less than half of us get the amount of exercise recommended by the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. A study conducted by the CDC showed that in 2005, 23.7 percent of adults reported no leisure-time physical activity.

The North County Times reported the CDC’s findings that as many as one-third of high school students do not take part in regular physical activity during a typical week and even fewer take part in daily gym classes at school.  This article says that a lot of parents don’t see a problem and that polls show parents believe a majority of children are in good or excellent health.

Adults – family, teachers, coaches, neighbors – are role models for children. We set the tone, particularly for exercise.

Experts suggest that if we make exercise fun, not work, children will be more likely to participate. They also suggest that we encourage kids to exercise through activities they like to do: soccer, dancing, swimming, jumping rope, skating, even navigating an obstacle course in the backyard.

I hope that the North County Times article inspires you to be physically active this year and, importantly, to encourage the children in your life to be active. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom of the article for practical and inexpensive ideas for integrating more exercise opportunities for children into daily routines both at home and at school.

My goals for 2008 include learning to do a flip turn so that I can move out of the slow lane of the Masters Swim program at my local YWCA. What’s on your list?