Children and the connection they feel with physically active has significant challenges today.
Decades ago experiences were mostly underpinned in either "doing it" or taking a book and "reading about it." The revolution of visual media in a box (television watching), evolving from radio (listening) and print information (reading) unbeknownst to us was the first harbinger of things to come. And it was not too long after that we as a healthcare community had our first taste of the consequences, a hard shift toward a new health player on the block, "lifestyle-related-disease." Half a century ago, we were unaware of the unfortunate impact, an epidemic childhood obesity, early onset diabetes, early adulthood hypertension and heart attacks, etc, all pointing back to a pivotal change in the habit of sitting on our backsides and "watching" the world on a screen rather than "actively, physically" experiencing the world.
More significantly is the evolution of chaining young impressionable human behaviour to a screen, not only for watching it, but fully entrenching them to addictive entertainment in a manner that harnessed the most primal aspects of being human, that is to be challenged by digital games versus real life physical games, rewarded in a manner that creates an addiction, a mentally salivating for more, that deep dopamine loop of satisfaction and striving for get more and more of it. Hey! This use to be the domain of physical activity, of physical games of adventure with friends, of creating games of tag etc. What happened?
Our children are at the mercy of trusting what we parents place in their hands, that it will not create addiction, nor disastrous health outcomes in the next decades. No parent would want that any more than allowing ones child to be poisoned through the consequences years of low levels of lead poisoning or alcohol upon developing brains, where the hard manifestations will be experienced years later. Is that really much different from placing an addictive device in their hands that will take their legs out from the physical activity of creating games of adventure or tag or playing pickup with youthful friends. That device in the palm of the hand, the handshake of a young adult with the manifestations of lifestyle related disease. The motto of hand held devices should be, "Start them young to failing health."
The consequence is now we have to organize being physically active. We have guidelines we have to strive for to maintain personal health. And for our children, your children, we have only one tool that has a clear correlation to protecting them from a life of premature metabolic diseases like being profoundly overweight + the consequences of an early life of inactivity... That tool: your being active "with". That is beyond dropping them off to an organized, scheduled, adult structured physical activity (We really created this for kids to be active- Adult structured, organized by adults, programmed scheduled start and stop time physical activity??).
Being active "with" your children has benefits for you and for them.. yes for you too! And it as easy as "taking a break" to pick up a ball, put shoes on your feet and go for a walk, jumping on a bike, exploring the woods... you get my jest? And it only has to be 2 X on the weekend and one time during the week. On the other days just organize a gaggle of their friends and throw them outside. Yes we all had our parents do that when we were younger... "Get outside. Get out of the house. Unless you are bleeding, I do not want to see you until the next meal."
Let's talk benefits:
First for little "Johnny" or "Jenny":
- Spend time with you, their parent.
- Role modelling...
- Physical Activity has a direct correlation to lower levels of disease
- Improving the likelihood of establishing life long habits
- How would you like your children raise your grandchildren? "The apple does not fall far from the tree."
- Activity with a gaggle of your child's friends develops youthful eye to eye collaboration and how to resolve things like disagreements where one does not just shut off the screen. For human growth this is key especially without adults to referee all the time. That is healthy.
Second, for you:
- Activity for you that is a break from work work work.
- Time to smile a little with your child.
- Opportunity to chat and learn more about a child/teenager where it does not happen otherwise. It is just too busy of a world.
Exercise doesn't have to be expensive.
- From riding bikes,
- to playing at the park or
- creating an obstacle course in the back yard.
- Creating fitness videos, where your family are the stars.
- Selecting exercises to do during commercials when watching a family show