07 February 2011

Taking your children’s health in hand

You’ve embarked on an exercise programme that's helped you to progress slowly, but steadily, and now you're ready to make it a permanent feature in your life.

So you’re pretty much in shape now. You’ve understood the value of being active, have embarked on an exercise programme that has allowed you to progress slowly, but steadily, and now you are hopefully ready to make it a permanent feature in your life.

Obesity afflicts people in both industrial and developing countries. It damages our health and is associated with many chronic diseases of lifestyle such as heart disease, stroke, breast cancer, colon cancer, arthritis, and adult onset (Type 2) diabetes. And it’s not just adults that are overweight. The number of overweight children in South Africa, is on the increase.

  • Help children to engage in regular, daily physical activity of moderate intensity. Ideally, 30 minutes of activity should be accumulated most days of the week.
  • Allow children to develop an enjoyment of physical activity and find out what particularly appeals to them. Don’t encourage competitiveness, since this may put them off.
  • Ensure they also take part in vigorous physical activity that promotes the development and maintenance of cardio-respiratory (heart and respiratory system) fitness.
  • It is important that children are taught to practice self-management skills (such as goal setting, monitoring, barrier minimization), for maintaining active lifestyles.
  • Children need to know how much physical activity, and which types, are associated with the benefits (social, emotional, health and physical). However, this information needs to be provided in a light, entertaining way, otherwise exercise will be seen as a burden or a task rather than a fun activity.
  • Increase a child’s physical activity levels by reducing the amount of time in non-school sedentary behaviours such as working on the computer, watching TV or playing video games.
  • Another very important role of exercise, is to promote optimal physical development. Therefore, encourage extra-curricular activities that increase physical activity.




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