By Amy McGowan, Owner of Gymboree Play & Music
Picture this—a beautiful Kentucky summer day; blue sky, big white fluffy clouds, a warm 82° with a gentle breeze. Children are riding bikes, climbing trees, playing ball, and swinging on a swing-set. Is it 1974 or 2014? Have the advances in society caused us to be less physically fit, as the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition suggests? According to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition website fitness.gov:
Only 33% of children are physically active every day.
Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day; only 33% of adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
Children now spend more than 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen (e.g., TV, video games, computer).
Only 20% of homes have parks within a half-mile, and about the same number have a fitness or recreation center within that same distance.
Nearly 33% of high school students play video or computer games for 3 or more hours on an average school day.
Recent reports project that by 2030, 50% of all adults (115 million adults) in the United States will be obese.
Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.
OK - we know we need to be physically fit but what does that mean? The President’s Council on Fitness recommends 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Making physical activity fun is the key to being successful. Find out what you and your family love. For example, I love swimming, I don’t like running. I like jogging, but I don’t like walking. Here are some suggestions on how you can make physical activity fun.
Motivated by social interactions? Take a class where you can meet new people and make new friends. Examples include swimming or tennis lessons.
Enjoys watching and playing sports? Consider playing sports together as a family. It helps promote lifelong interest in that sport, which can create a healthy habit.
Do your family’s interests lean more toward the outdoors? Walking and biking trails and other outdoor nature sanctuaries are good places for physical activity.
Interested in the arts? Dance classes and dancing at home are great ways to add physical activity to your day.
Making physical activity fun in some way will compete with the dramatic graphics of video games, the immediate social interactions of social media and ease of access of one touch computing. Also planning a time each day when the whole family “unplugs” is good practice to help encourage physical activity.
Here are some local resources that can help you get active now:
LFUCG Division of Parks and Recreation, lexingtonky.gov
Every Trail, everytrail.com
Lex Fun 4 Kids, lexfun4kids.com