I exercise every day.
I began with aerobics or weight training while my children napped — it was safer that way. I didn’t need to careen off my step and into them, or accidentally put a dumbbell down on little toes. As they got older, however, the naps ended. Rather than end my at-home workouts, I did them while they were happily engaged in other things. In addition to doing something for myself, I felt I was doing something good for them, too. They could see me working up a good sweat, and hopefully setting a good example for a healthy lifestyle.
All too often, however, our kids aren’t given the chance to exercise their bodies. A couple periods of gym a week just doesn’t seem like enough to create healthy and smart kids. We know that, statistically speaking, children are growing heavier with more sedentary lives. In addition to sitting in school, some kids come home and sit in front of the television or the computer. Now, a Dutch research team has found that the more physically active school-aged children are, the better they do in the classroom.
A positive punch
The findings suggest that physical activity increases blood and oxygen flow to the brain, curtails stress and promotes new nerve cells. Simply put, exercise the body and the brain gets a boost, too. As parents, we know that running around outside – or inside, for that matter –is good to burn off some of that boundless kid energy. A tired child sleeps better. And a well-rested child is better equipped to handle a long school day. Neither parents nor teachers want grumpy, tired kids.
Stephanie Parsons, Health and Wellness Director at Findlay’s YMCA, says physical activity can also help to increase a child’s self-esteem. She is currently seeking funding for a 12 week program that would train girls and enable them to run a 5K race at the conclusion of the sessions. But more than the race itself, she hopes the program, and others like it,
will increase interest in starting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. “Exercise is anything that gets your heart rate up,” she explains, adding that she has met adolescents who say they have never perspired before. “With kids, we just want them to be active in some way.”
That activity can go beyond organized sports. Swimming, skating and just running around the block are great ways to get little hearts pumping. A jumping jack contest, dancing to iPod tunes and nature walks are other ways to get kids off the couch. The Y recently even started a hoop fusion class, which features hula hoops, for families.
Ultimately, it is up to parents to set a good example and get moving. “The children see Mom or Dad being active and that’s how they want to be,” says Parsons.
So let your kids see you sweat – it will do everyone’s heart some good.
Family Exercise Classes at the YMCA
All classes to be attended with an adult
Tots in Motion
Group play in the gym
Ages: 2 1/2-5 years old
Time: Tuesday 10-10:40am
Introduction to gymnastics
Ages: 2 & 3 year olds
Time: Monday 11:30am-12:15pm or Tuesday 5:15pm-6pm
Play in the open gym
Ages: walking to 5 years old
Time: Tuesday 11am-11:45am
Call the YMCA for more information about fees and other classes. 419-422-4424. 300 E. Lincoln St.