The last articles have focused on children and their sports, nutrition, and some possible serious traumas. This month’s article reminds us that fitness and health does not require coaches, uniforms and practice times. A fit and healthy lifestyle is so easy to achieve on your own or as a family. All it requires is a desire to be active. There is no need for referees, time clocks, or scheduled hours. Anything that gets the body moving is fine, and all of these activities can be a chance for the family to be together and everyone stays healthy. This could be raking leaves, gardening, going for a hike in the woods or walk around the block; walking the dog, going to the park and playing on the playground, or a pick-up game of ball. The goal is to move the body at least 3-4 days per week for at least 30-45 minutes per session. Even low impact exercise such as walking has been shown to help maintain proper body weight. While active, maintaining hydration by drinking water is very important. In most instances there is no need for any electrolyte containing sports drinks.
Exercise is not just good for the body, but it is also good for the mind. The American Academy of Pediatrics in 2012 recess can provide not just health and emotional benefits, but also higher levels of attention and productivity in the classroom. Unfortunately, with the budget cuts and tight schedules, many of the school systems have removed or significantly reduced the frequency of recess and gym once children have reached middle school.
There are two other factors that will continue to promote a healthy lifestyle. These are proper nutrition and a good night’s sleep. Following the activity with healthy eating allows the body to grow and maintain roper muscle mass, allowing for increased strength and endurance over time.
The meal should contain some lean protein, a small amount of quick energy called carbohydrates, and lots of vegetables. Drinking lots of water prior to, during, and after exercise is very important as is making sure the child is taking in plenty of calcium.
An active body needs rest to heal and grow. So for most children a minimum of 8-9 hours is required for proper health. Sleep is the time when the body heals all of its bumps and bruises, grows bigger, taller and stronger, and creates long term memory. These memories may be of the fun the child just had that day playing or being with his/her family. Or, they may be memories of what they learned in school. So go outside and explore, have fun, be active, drink plenty of water, eat healthy, get a good night’s sleep and one’s fitness and wellness have come together.