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An adage many of us have heard is "you can't judge a book by its cover." Well that adage is true and false. It is true that character lies within the mind, heart and soul, but manifestation of character rises to the surface. How we present ourselves in our appearances and actions reveals our character. Consider me. I am a physically fit 6' 4" man. I know of no morning growing up wherein I did not eat a biscuit with Grandma's molasses. My family and everyone that I knew in my community celebrated life's pleasures with food, and treated life's disappointments with food.
Yet, when I was a kid, I was not like the one in three American kids who is overweight today. Today, 12.5 million American kids are obese. Obese kids have an 80% chance of staying obese their entire lives.
When I was a kid you had a choice of milk or water. Soda was a special drink that you had at a party. The sugary sodas, coffee drinks, smoothies, sports drinks and energy concoctions pressed to the lips of most kids today, everyday, were a novelty or they were non-existent. Public health leaders are encouraging parents to reduce their kids' drinking of sugary drinks to slow weight gain in heavy teens and reduce the odds that their normal-weight children will become obese.
When I was a kid we had maybe four channels on the tv and no remote control. We didn't have computer games or i devices. The outdoors beckoned us through our own volition, or our parents held the door open and told us to scram until dinnertime.
The idea of American kids’ fitness and health has been a focus of our government since President Eisenhower formed the President’s Council on Youth Fitness in 1956. Under a new name, the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports was made a government organization under the Office of Public Health and Science. Despite the government’s efforts for more than 50 years to provide the American public with access to information and services that would aid in the creation of healthy lifestyle choices for children, today there is a widely accepted “obesity epidemic” affecting American youth.
Debates continue as to the causes of the “epidemic.” Divorce rates, single parenthood, two parents working, economic conditions, inundation of technology, the abundance of unhealthy food, the lack of free play outside in healthy environments, and more factors are debated.
Regardless of the debate, the American lifestyle is busier than ever. and we are tempted daily by fast food to fit our busy lifestyles. Many American families hit the drive-through with their kids or they pick up prepared meals or heavily processed food at the supermarket. Weight is deleteriously affected by the abundance of unhealthy food that is available to us under the guise of making our lives easier.
Today’s technologies entice kids to be sedentary and socially disconnected. Because of the role that technology plays in the social fabric of our kids’ lives, it is incumbent upon us parents to balance their access to meaningful social connections. Healthy cooking at home, playing team sports and supervised and unsupervised physical activity in the outdoors is especially important today not only to aid our children’s physical health, but their intellectual, emotional, and social development as well.
As parents, we are the role models for our children. We must actively and regularly monitor and influence our kids’ activities. Small, permanent changes in our physical activity and eating choices will influence our kids’ health and fitness. We all know that oatmeal is better than Captain Crunch, and that baked chicken is better than processed nuggets. It is us, the adults, parents, grandparents, and all professionals who work with children who affect the well-being of American kids.
Further, it is imperative that our kids are regularly encouraged to freely play outside. An insightful article written by Randy White & Vicki Stoecklin, Children’s Outdoor Play & Learning Environments: Returning to Nature, published in 1998 by Early Childhood News magazine, recited numerous benefits that free play in the outdoors has on the development of children:
Children experience nature as a full, interactive, sensory experience that contributes to their developing sense of beauty, mystery, wonder, sense of joy, imagination, independence, autonomy, and empathy. Wonder and curiosity are motivators for life long learning.
Natural outdoor environments undeniably produce positive physiological and psychological responses in us. Hiking trails in Brodie Park marveling at the fall foliage certainly reduces my stress and gives me a feeling of well-being. Hiking a trail with my child gives us both that sensory experience plus physical fitness.
Staying fit in mind and body does not have to be a daunting task. Move around outdoors with your kids as much as possible and eat smart. We all make choices. Our kids deserve to be shown how to make smart ones.
Provided by MyRec.com online activity registration & recreation software.