These easy to remember daily tasks will make your kids (and you!) healthier. Don’t forget to do the M.E.W.!
One of three children in the United States is overweight or obese. This is alarming and problematic. Serious medical conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can develop because of childhood obesity.
Other risks include bone and joint problems, shortness of breath and aggravated asthma symptoms, restless sleep / breathing problems at night, and later on in adulthood, irregular menstrual cycles and fertility problems, heart disease, heart failure, and stroke, and liver and gall bladder disease. Furthermore, the self-esteem of obese children is usually low which increases their risk for eating disorders, depression, and substance abuse.
Experts attribute childhood obesity to kids not moving as they ought to. Children today prefer playing mobile games and spend most of their time in front of the computer or TV.
The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) set these guidelines
Minimum Daily Activity According To Your Child’s Age
No specific requirements (Physical activity should encourage motor development)
Toddler: 1½ hours
30 minutes planned physical activity AND 60 minutes unstructured physical activity (free play)
Preschooler: 2 hours
60 minutes planned physical activity AND 60 minutes unstructured physical activity (free play)
School age 1 hour or more: Break up into bouts of 15 minutes or more
Move with your kids!
Set an example. Show them that active physical play is more fun (you can probably start with that tennis game or dance steps in Wii)! Include exercise and movement in your day: stretching in the morning, walking to school, an afternoon walk or biking around the neighborhood. Set fun activities that involve movement: swimming, sports, hiking, and others. Move even when washing the dishes, cleaning the floor, or doing the laundry.
Exercise helps kids grow stronger bones and muscles, maintain a healthy weight, decrease health risks, and be more confident.
Eat Nutritious Food and Drink Water
It’s never too early to teach children the nutritional value of the food they eat:
- Avoid fast-food and instant food as much as you can.
- Make learning about the food groups and food pyramid fun and simple (use visuals and interactive tools).
- Involve kids in meal preparation at home.
- Make eating time special.
- Practice mindful eating.
- Teach them about the healthy plate (www.chosemyplate.gov/kids).07
- And of course, set an example (reserve eating chips during late-night movie marathons when the kids are asleep).
As for what to drink: water is best. Many juices, even those that claim they are healthy, contain high amounts of sugar and artificial flavors. The benefits of hydrating with water include maintaining body temperature, energy levels, and brain function.
Even just mild dehydration can impair brain performance, mood, concentration, and memory, and increase frequency of headaches and feelings of anxiety and fatigue. Water also helps in proper digestion and increasing metabolism, relieving constipation, and weight loss.
Proper and frequent hand washing is the best germ-buster, which in turn prevents the spread of diseases from the common cold to the serious ones like flu, hepatitis A, meningitis and diarrhea. Children are fascinated with water so they love washing their hands.
Here are the steps to proper handwashing
- Wet hands with clean running water and apply soap (antibacterial soap is not a requirement).
Lather by rubbing hands together for 15 to 20 seconds (sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” which is approximately 28 seconds).
- Rinse hands under running water.
- Get a paper towel to dry hands. Use the paper towel to turn off the faucet.
- If soap and water are not readily available, an alcohol-based sanitizer may be used.
Do the M.E.W. with your kids now!