One of the most often overlooked groups that need to have structured exercise routines are toddlers and small children. Because these little tikes are usually squirming or wriggling around, parents mistakenly consider that activity equivalent to sufficient physical activity. Unfortunately, dancing around in front of a television set or computer monitor hardly qualifies as Naperville fitness classes, even for the littlest population group.
Coupled with alarmingly poor nutritional value and picky eating habits of toddlers and young children, the lack of activity is a breeding ground for future health problems such as obesity and diabetes. Most of the foods that are geared toward this sensitive age group, whether through advertising or sheer convenience, are packed with sugars, carbohydrates and artificial flavors. Although some nutrients may be added during production, there is precious little protein or fiber to be found in most food that is packaged and targeted for children.
Numerous studies have shown the positive effects of regular activity and healthy eating in infants, toddlers and elementary age students. The behavior results alone are encouraging enough to ensure that kids eat well and get the proper amount of rest everyday. Also, instilling healthy habits during the most impressionable years will ensure a lifetime of activity and nutritious eating preferences. There is also a natural bonding experience developed simply from cooking with children. The food preparation, reading recipes, measuring ingredients and enjoying the finished product together adds value to the meal planning and also teaches children about cooking, following directions and creating family time.
Some easy exercises that can be done indoors or outdoors have the same bonding effect and also produce lean and active children. Traditional exercises like jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups and leg lifts are fun and engage all major muscle groups for growing bodies. If children insist on watching television during the day, opt for programming that encourages activity. Or, better still, use upbeat videos to get children up and dancing. They are usually not only very interactive, but also somewhat educational. Consider trying specific themes such as learning all the body parts, colors or numbers. Older children may enjoy learning these simple concepts in another language. Thanks to modern technology, and the internet, there are tons of ways to keep physical activity interesting and varied for children. When parents are also interested, becoming involved in the activities and creating family memories is easy and fun.