There have been so many studies and scare stories around the growing child obesity problem that they often get lost amongst stories. What is even more perplexing is that these studies and journo alarmists often use them as a pre-cursor to attacking junk food, or TV dinners, computer obsessed gaming teenagers, the large restaurant chains and those naughty supermarkets. Too much is made of finger pointing and what is wrong with society and not enough on what is the right thing to do as individuals.
The greatest weapon against obesity is getting our kids active. Child activity classes is a great way to initiate their love of excercise. To get them into activities and sports that burn off all their excess calories. Healthy, lung busting, chasing each other in the field and around playgrounds, gardens and even in the street! Organized healthy sport is a great foundation for a healthy life. It all starts with us as toddlers and our early steps in life. The more active we can make our little ones, the more an active lifestyle will become a part of their foundation for a healthy life.
Research shows that almost half of all the country's seven-year-olds lead sedentary lifestyles. This is defined as less than one hours exercise per day. One hour per day is the UK's chief medical officers’ recommendation as the bare minimum to boost their health and stop them becoming overweight or developing heart problems.
The medical journal BMJ Open and its findings point to a parents responsibility to get children active at an early stage as possible. Child activity classes and other forms of organized sport can provide the bedrock for a healthy lifestyle.
However – and here’s the rub - We all know that as busy parents we struggle with the hamster wheel of life, working long hours, run ragged by household chores and tumbling from one mini family crisis to another. Being able to constantly watch over our inactive, computer and TV focused siblings avoiding the fresh air – is often a blind challenge and a stage too far in the evenings.
The government's National Child Measurement Programme in England shows that by the final year of primary school 33.9% of pupils are either overweight (14.7%) or obese (19.2%).
So how can you be there encouraging them to keep active, to have fun with sports. Well your secret ally is good habits. Get your children into football, baseball, netball, hockey, cricket, athletics, rugby, judo or anything that gives them a structured route to activity and sport. This has to be the way to go as a busy parent.
Let’s start that habit early - Toddler classes are a great start and then introduce them to other sports and activities to see which ones grab their attention. The 2012 London Olympics – was used to "inspire a generation" to take part in sport – and we as parents need to keep that momentum up – even when we are not there to watch over them – use those silent good habits to do their trick!