These days children spend a huge amount of time sitting down. Unimaginative teaching methods have them sitting through class after class at school, and when they get home, they sit down again to do their homework. When they have free time, they tend to spend it sitting down, too – watching TV, playing computer games, reading books and so on. Even those who get up and hang out with their friends at the mall tend to get tired of walking around quickly, and find somewhere to sit down and drink a cola or eat an ice cream.
The net result of all this sitting is layer upon layer of fat, which makes sitting even more comfortable, but also makes it more difficult to get up and get around. It is estimated that one in five children aged 6-11 is obese already, and the greater proportion of those remaining are overweight. Yet, we somehow seem to be blind to this. This could be partly due to the fact that more than two thirds of parents are also overweight – perhaps, by acknowledging that our children have a problem, we might be confronted by our own problem, and forced to deal with it. And life’s just easier if you ignore all your problems, right? We can kick back on the couch, watching a movie where the kids are all active and look healthy as we sup on sodas and cram fistfuls of popcorn and nachos into our mouths for hours on end, imagining ourselves in the roles of the actors we so admire, despite our BMI being double theirs.
So, what can we do about it? Well, a good start would be to stop eating junk – highly processed fast food full of fats and sodium, stay away from hyper-sugary drinks and start eating more fruit, vegetables and drinking water. Eat at regular times and if you need to snack, choose a healthy option.
Improving our diet is essential, but it’s not the only way we need to take care of ourselves and our kids. We also need to make sure that we are active and exercise our bodies. Sitting in front of a screen and exercising our thumbs on a games controller doesn’t count.
In many areas, a bicycle is a great way for kids to stay active. Not only does it give them a means of getting around faster, but it can also be uses to do tricks and stunts, and open up a whole new social life to them. A kid who cycles to and from school every day, goes down to the store to pick up groceries and other things on their bike to help you out, and spend their time racing off road or practicing stunts and tricks with their friends, won’t be fat for long. Kids who do that kind of exercise are lean, muscular and have a well-functioning cardiovascular system. There are plenty options out there for the young and restless – get the right bike for your child and it could change their life for the better.
If you live in an area where there aren’t all that many opportunities for riding a bike – perhaps you live on a quiet street but in a busy, big city, and you don’t think your child is ready to deal with big city traffic when going to and from school – perhaps it’s better to let them take the school bus, still. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be active. Plenty of kids get the same kind of fun and satisfaction from playing on their skateboards instead of on bikes. The same goes for in-line skates, which are making a huge comeback at the moment, and less common, but even cooler items such as unicycles. It takes fitness and balance to be able to ride a unicycle well, and your child will definitely have a social life if they master it.
Exercising and staying active is not just fun, it’s essential if we want to lead healthy lives. More and more children suffer from diseases such as diabetes due to their poor physical condition. These diseases can be fatal. Do we really want to put our children’s lives at risk, simply because we can’t be bothered to encourage them to be more active?