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Family Exercise for Diabetes Prevention in Kids
It’s that time of year where the weather finally welcomes families to enjoy outdoor activities again. You’ll see families walking, jogging, swimming, riding their bikes, playing outdoor sports – or will you?
Families are not nearly as active as they need to be, and it’s having an impact on children’s health. According to statistics, obesity rates among children in Canada have nearly tripled in the last 30 years (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Close to one third (31.5%) of children and adolescents are overweight or obese (Statistics Canada. (2012). Overweight and obesity in children and adolescents: results from the 2009 to 2011. Canadian Health Measures Survey).
Physical literacy amongst younger generations have diminished because a lot of play isn’t physical anymore. In my experience, this cycle of inactivity typically continues as children grow up. As teens and adults they tend to have a strong tendency to stay away from physical activity because they feel they’re not good at it, not comfortable, or don’t see any real value in it. How does this play out long-term? They are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes as children or teens between 10-19 years of age. At the age of 30, many will begin to experience health problems normally experienced at 70.
Break the cycle. In order to see change, parents need to lead by example. Show them that you’re willing to learn and improve yourself both physically, mentally and emotionally. They will follow in your footsteps and the more emphasis you put on your overall health, the more they will grow to value this and make it a priority themselves.
When you disconnect from your technology, take the time to talk about your day around the dinner table, go for a jog or do things that help you have a more balanced life. Your kids will notice and incorporate these values into their own lifestyle, which will have a greater long-term impact.
Family Exercise for a Healthy Lifestyle
This is not fitness for the gym, this is exercise for a healthy lifestyle. The difference is there are no weights or technology needed for this to have the same impact as hitting the gym. When becoming a proactive family, it’s important to start with a low impact activity and build up the time as you get comfortable.
Some great beginner activities include walking, playing keep-ups, playing tag, hide-and-seek, and water balloon tosses. The idea is to make the activity fun and getting the body used to moving daily. To keep everyone interested, try a new physical activity each time until you find a few that everyone enjoys.
The next step is body maintenance through stretching. A good way to incorporate this is to play “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes.” As you work your way down the body, do a stretch that has to do with each of those body parts. If you need a little more guidance, sign up for a family yoga class once or twice a week. Not only is this great bonding time, it also helps you and your kids develop a positive connection with your bodies.
Proactive changes can make a great long-term impact, especially when it comes to deterring childhood obesity. If we’re able to create a strong foundation of physical activity, self-care, and mindfulness for our children, they will have a healthy, balanced life ahead of them.
Noel Miller is the founder of Design Fitness in Toronto. He has over a decade of experience in the healthcare field in areas including massage therapy, chiropractic, physiotherapy, sports coaching, athletic development, athletic therapy, cranial sacral therapy, sensitivity training, and leadership development. Noel’s Certification and Education includes: an Advanced Diploma in Exercise Prescription, CSEP-CPT, Jumpstart Muscle Activation, CAM HD, ELDOA 1, Joint Mobilization technique, Myofascial Release, Hormones and Exercise, IMM certificated, and acupressure technique. Visit: designfitness.ca.