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Health and Wellness
Get Our Kids Moving!
BSN, RN, FNP (ret) Wellness Consultant
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 • Posted September 21, 2012 11:05 AM

Inactivity has become an epidemic among children and is a major reason for the growing rate of obesity. About ten million children in this country currently have serious weight problems, placing them at potential risk later in life from diabetes, heart disease, orthopedic disorders and respiratory disease. By motivating children to be active and providing a well-balanced diet, parents can help kids maintain a healthy weight, improve overall health and well-being, and develop good eating and exercise habits to last a lifetime.

Previous studies have determined that several factors may be adversely influencing bone development in children, including soft drink consumption, lack of sunlight ( which promotes the body's own manufacturing of Vitamin D) resulting in Vitamin D deficiency, and for some children, inactivity. Studies have shown that the biggest single influence on bone density is physical activity during childhood and adolescence.

Exercise is a much more important factor than calcium in building bone health. A recent report in Pediatrics found that inactive teens had lower bone density by the age of 18 than active teens. The researchers also concluded that calcium consumed from milk had no effect on bone density. In other words, children develop bone as a result of movement and that is why teaching kids a sedentary lifestyle is so dangerous.

Other nutrients are needed for calcium utilization, such as Vitamin K, Vitamin C and potassium. These nutrients are abundant in citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, bananas, potatoes, green vegetables, beans, soy foods and fruits and vegetables in general. And, the calcium found in many of these plant foods is absorbed twice as well as the calcium in milk.

The California Department of Education administered a standardized reading and mathematics test, as well as a fitness test to 353,000 fifth graders, 322,000 seventh graders, and 279,000 ninth graders in the spring of 2001. The fitness test was developed by the Cooper Institute for Aerobics in Dallas and measures six areas of physical fitness, including aerobic fitness, body fat, strength and flexibility. In all three grades, achievement scores on the academic portion of the tests improved with increasing levels of fitness. The relationship was stronger in mathematics than in reading.

This is not the first time a study like this has been conducted. Just as research consistently shows a connection between nutrition and academic performance, there are consistently shown correlations between physical activity and academic performance. And everyone knows that kids do not get enough exercise these days.

Previous studies have shown that physically active parents tend to produce physically active kids. When both parents are active, the chances of children being regular exercisers increases to 75-80%. If you can't get motivated to change your diet and get aggressive about exercise to improve your own health, maybe you can get motivated since your children's futures depend on it! We all know that kids tend to pay more attention to what we do than what we say. If you're involved, you are showing your child that physical activity is a priority. Let's collectively set a terrific example for the next generation!

Get everyone moving. The federal government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend at least an hour of exercise daily for children and teenagers; 30 minutes a day for adults. Get kids involved in everyday activities such as walking the dog, washing the car or weeding the garden. They won't even know they're exercising! Cut back on electronic babysitters. Kids who spend more time watching TV are more likely to have weight problems. So limit your child's TV and computer and video game time. Put homework second (usually). When your kids get home from school insist they drop the books and play for at least 30 minutes. After six hours sitting in class, their brains are tired, they need a break, and they need to move. If you don't feel safe letting your kids outside unsupervised, and you work during the day, here's a solution: Let them do their homework first, then, when you get home, join them for a walk or Frisbee or whatever else appeals.

If your kids are twelve or older, it's a good idea to sign them up for a structured exercise program at least once a week. Among other things, they'll make physically active friends in a structured program, which can help them stay active. Not all children like team sports, so consider other activities like gymnastics, swimming or running. And, whenever possible - on weekends, after work - get out there and play with your kids, whatever their ages. Try to do something every day. And don' be surprised if you drop a few pounds yourself. Grandma was right…”Eat your fruits and veggies…go outside and play!”

Disclaimer: Facts in these articles are obtained from medical and clinical journals, scientific publications, and published trade books. These articles are written and published strictly for information purposes. Consult your health care provider for your specific medical needs. For any questions, comments or suggestions contact Maryella at or

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