We all know the problem, children in this country are overly obese, but the real issue is the trend lines. As you can see from the chart above, in 1980 just 5% of children between ages 12-19 were obese while just 20 years later that number more than tripled. And these numbers from Health and Human Services are already a decade old, most of the numbers I read today have this number close to 20% or one in every five children are obese.
I wrote in a recent column, which is already my most read column yet, that I blame us parents, adults and coaches for the obesity epidemic amoung our youth. The biggest reason for obesity in our population, both adult and youth, is the food choices we make.
Today though I am going to talk about something else. I am going to talk about getting your kids off their butt and out the door and how you can join them and show them how beneficial exercise is as a healthy lifestyle choice.
When I was in high school and for a while in the mid-late 90’s, I was a runner. I liked to lace up the shoes and go for a 5-10 mile run. Then life happened, children came into my life, work picked up and things just got “to busy.” We all know that is a BS excuse, but hey, it was my BS excuse.
About six months ago my 11 year old daughter decided she wanted to do cross country with her 5th grade class to stay in shape for basketball season. As cross country was always my favorite sport, I highly encouraged her and decided I was going to start running again too.
I had just started losing th 45 pounds I had put on and decided this was one way besides my Crossfit workouts that I could get back in shape. In early September of 2011, we both purchased a new pair of running shoes and off we went.
The first two weeks for me were like any first few weeks of exercise. It sucked. Then I started getting back into shape and being able to run three miles, although way to slow, and I started enjoying it again. As a matter of fact, I started enjoying it even more than I used to when I was a regular runner.
My daughter and I started running workouts together, I became an assistant coach on her cross country team and became involved in teaching her good form and training habits. It was something we were doing together, and that is the main point of this post. If you join your kids in their activities, not only are you getting a healthy workout, you are showing them how much you want to be involved in their lives and how much you value physical activity.
Running with my daughter is not all I do. Besides coaching cross country, I also coach little league baseball, youth basketball and go hiking on a regular basis with my kids. I am involved which again had a positive benefit in not only keeping me active, but also keeping me involved with my kids lives.
What if your kids are not into organized sports? Even if your kid does not want to join the soccer team or basketball team that does not mean you cannot be involved with them. If they are young, take them to the playground and play with them on the monkey bars. Take them to the park and play some ultimate frisbee or golf frisbee. Go for a bike ride with your kids. Take your kids hiking. Go for 30-60 minute brisk walk with them a few times a week and play I Spy. Just do something.
None of us has “enough time.” I know I never had enough time either until I remembered we all have the same 24-hours in a day. It is how WE chose to spend them that determines what type of person and what type of parent we are going to be. I had to force myself to find different productivity tools to manage my time better. I had to learn to put my kids first and schedule their time first. Then everything else just found a way to get done.
Take the time to play with your kids. They will only be this age once.