Thursday, June 21, 2012

Healthy Bodies—Stay Active!

Positive Modeling & Promotion of Healthy Bodies – A Four Part Series with Pediatric Obesity Specialist Dr. Dyan Hes

Part Three—Stay Active!

In our last installment of this four part series with Dr. Dyan Hes, we learned about portion control and how to model this for children starting from the time they are babies. Today, we’ll focus on being active!

Dr. Jen: Parenting is so... tiring! Dr. Hes, how do you suggest parents of young children model exercise and even get kids moving the appropriate amount?

Dr. Hes: A healthy adult should aim to have at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily. Many parents focus on incorporating a scheduled activity plan in their child’s day, but neglect themselves in terms of adult physical activity. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers seeing active parents learn these behaviors. As a parent, finding time to exercise can be tough. Between working, cooking, cleaning, and homework, when do you have time for yourself? Why don’t you incorporate your child into your exercise routine by walking or jogging with your stroller, doing sit ups next to their activity mat, or dancing with them to fun music. Put on your exercise clothes and sneakers when you walk your kids to school and make a workout out of it. Add on a few extra laps around the block to improve your cardiac fitness.

Dr. Jen: One thing I’m really happy we did (and I have to credit my husband—One Sassy Daddy) for this—is “stroller boot camp”. We got each set of twins out of the stroller just around the age of two and never looked back. It meant some sore backs as we’d have to pick them up occasionally at the zoo, but in the end they got the point. How young is too young to get kids moving and active?

Dr. Hes: Your kids will reach their limit and let you know—just as yours did at the zoo, Dr. Jen, you learned and built up their stamina over time. Once baby is crawling, let the crawl fest begin. Cruise, walk and walk some more. Strollers are a life saver yet promote immobility for young kids and it’s great to wean out when you and your child are ready. Two is a fine age—try it for short trips at first.

Dr. Jen: Babies can’t jog on a treadmill, we know that—so are babies really getting exercise when they move around?

Dr. Hes:
I have a two part answer: Yes, they are getting exercise but they are also seeing modeling of activity as you engage in active play. How about enrolling your child in a swim class and instead of watching the class from the bench, you do a few laps as well? Take your toddlers out the park and get them moving. What game do kids of all ages love to play? Tag! Try toddler tag—they all want you, the adult to be IT! The best thing about tag is that you do not have to be a star athlete. All kids can participate and it is free.

Dr. Jen: Fantastic advice, Dr. Hes—can’t wait until next week!