Tips on Keeping Kids Physically Active
By Dr. Vicky Phillips
Hi everyone! Dr. Phillips here. I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself and share a few things that I enjoy doing, that also happen to be important when it comes to raising healthy kids. I love being outdoors, and I love being physically active. Growing up, gymnastics was my sport of choice, and I competed until I was a sophomore in high school. After retiring from gymnastics, I became a cheerleader. I coached gymnastics at a local club during college, and during the summers, I taught cheerleading camps for the National Cheerleaders Association.
Benefits of Staying Active
I still try to be active on a regular basis through hiking, running, and fitness classes. Physical activity is good for children and adults of all ages. It has been shown to improve sleep, reduce anxiety and depression, decrease obesity, and decrease the risk of developing chronic diseases as an adult. These diseases include diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and heart disease. Keep in mind that kids don’t have to be in organized sports to be physically active. For example, riding bikes provides aerobic activity, climbing trees helps to strengthen muscles, and jumping rope or playing hopscotch helps to strengthen bones. I also try to remind parents to keep activities fun so that kids will develop a love for being physically active, rather than come to resent it.
A Childhood Well Remembered
I especially love being outdoors, which ties in nicely with a desire to stay active. I suspect this stems from my time spent outside as a child. I remember riding my bike around the neighborhood after school, playing in the woods by my house until it was almost dark, and spending my summers at my grandmother’s neighborhood swimming pool. Unstructured outdoor play is great for kids as it helps them develop spatial awareness and improves emotional regulation. Kids with frequent outdoor play tend to be less aggressive and have better attention spans, not to mention the exposure to Vitamin D. Additionally, remember the importance of teaching our kids to care for the environment. In fact, research has shown that they are more likely to take notice of how they treat the planet if they spend time outdoors as children.
Life is busy, especially this time of year. But try to take a few moments each day to step outside and enjoy the beautiful Fall weather! I promise it’s worth it.