This article was contributed by Callie Leaver, a personal trainer in Atlanta, Georgia. If you have a question for Callie either post a comment or send it through the contact us section of this web-site.
Did you know experts estimate 15% of our children in the US are overweight? Did you know another 15% are at risk of becoming overweight? Experts also estimate that 2/3 of these children will carry their weight issues with them into adulthood. Take a look at the children in your life. Are they at risk? What can you do?
First of all, recognize you can be a role model for children. If you are not already participating in a fitness activity, start. An easy way to get started is going for a walk.
I often take my daughter for a walk. She loves it. We sing songs; we jog a short period and then walk; then we talk about things. It is an awesome way to spend time with the children in your life and you are encouraging the children to get active. There are some things you should remember.
- Ensure your child has no physical ailments that would prevent him/her from walking.
- Ensure the walking distance is appropriate for the child. You may walk for a distance and then turn around and walk back. On every walk you can increase the distance a little. For smaller children or longer distances take a stroller with you just in case the child gets tired or be prepared to carry him/her.
- Children should wear sport shoes while going for a walk. Wearing dress shoes may result in blisters.
- Constantly review safety issues with your child – help them understand to stay close to the curve if you must walk on the street. Help them understand the importance of watching for cars. If a sidewalk is available, have the child walk on the inside of the sidewalk farthest from the road. If a child is prone to running ahead, ensure they are old enough to understand to stay on the sidewalk and to stop and wait for you at road crossings.
- In the beginning always hold your child’s hand until you are able to determine their ability to understand and to follow the safety guidelines.
- If possible, select a walking course that has minimal traffic and ultimate safety. If you don’t feel comfortable with the area, check your local school’s track availability. Tracks provide an advantage as your child can run ahead of you and you can still keep them in eyesight. If you child gets tired, he/she can sit for a minute and you can continue to walk. Check local parks for walking trails.
- Don’t focus on the fact that you are exercising. Focus on family time and getting some fresh air.
- Ensure your child goes to the bathroom before getting started on your walk
- Take a small bottle of water with you. Encourage your child to drink water during the walk.
- If a child gets tired stop for a couple of minutes and give them a drink of water. Don’t be pushy in an attempt to get them to walk.
Remember to bring lots of patience – recognize in the beginning it may be slow, but it will get better over time.