Fit Kids – Get Out Walking
We’ve all seen the cartoons highlighting our inactivity and telling us that most of us are couch potatoes. Well, take a look again – for increasing numbers of our children are also couch potatoes. And it’s official.
In the UK and the US, with more than 80 per cent of adults failing to exercise sufficiently to benefit from long term health, it seems that children are following their parents’ bad habits. With the increasing use of the car to ferry children around, with some children watching up to 25 hours’ TV each week, and with video and computer games taking the place of sports and fitness activities, is it any wonder that increasing numbers of children are overweight, obese and unfit?
A study by the Schools’ Health Education Unit at Exeter University in Britain found the following disturbing truth: nearly half the girls and one third of the boys took less exercise than the equivalent of one 10 minute brisk walk a week. And a study in the USA by the Department of Health and Human Services found that 40 per cent of children between the age of five and eight were shown to exhibit at least one of the following heart disease risk factors: obesity, hypertension and high blood cholesterol. And the reason given – inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle.
Yet there is something you can do. Surveys have shown that sedentary parents tend to have sedentary children, and active parents tend to have active children. A University of Pittsburgh study found that overweight children have greater long term success controlling their weight if they are involved in a family based exercise and diet programme. So the moral is that your children are more likely to become more active if you do.
Walking is a low-impact, low-stress activity and is the safest aerobic exercise for kids, since their feet strike the ground with only 1-1.5 times their body weight in contrast to jogging and running where the feet pound the ground with more than twice this weight. Being a moderate exercise, the strength of kids’ legs and cardiovascular endurance improve gradually without strain or injury.
Walking also helps children:
- acquire good posture
- firm and tone muscles
- burn stored body fat, helping to reduce weight
- develop strong bone growth
- reduce the risk of heart disease
- be more physically and mentally alert
- increase confidence, self-esteem and self-image
Walking is a non-competitive activity, doesn’t require any special equipment and can be done equally well by boys and girls. Regular walking can enhance a child’s reading, writing and other skills, and their increased aerobic fitness will help them cope with the pressures of school and examinations. Walking is one activity that your kids can keep up for a lifetime.