This morning on the way to work I counted 14 kids riding an electric scooter to school. I passed a line of 23 cars long dropping off kids in the school safety zone. I watched as no less than 7 parents carried their children’s backpacks into the building. Hmmm…Over the last 25 years, caloric intake in toddlers and young kids has gone up three or four percent, but the level of physical activity has dropped nearly 20 percent to 25 percent,” says Ken Reed, Director of the Center for the Advancement of Physical Education.
I attended an elementary school where we had two recess periods a day. And, I realize as I type this that I sound all old and crotchety. I don’t remember how long they were, but there were two of them; morning recess and after lunch recess. My memories include jumping rope, kick ball (I was horrible), a tisket a tasket (I dreaded getting the “basket”), monkey bars, and hopscotch.
“The situation isn’t good and it’s getting worse,” says Reed. “Physical activity levels have dropped dramatically in the last 25 years and we believe there’s a direct link there to childhood obesity, as well as a dramatic increase in type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol levels in children.”
If you’ve been listening to the news, reading the papers (or paperless papers), and not simply trolling through the news feed on Facebook, you know that your kid has a lower life expectancy than you. How scary is that?
What can you do?
You as a parent are the primary person responsible for the health and wellness of your child. I’m not lecturing, I’m citing a fact. For one, make sure your child has plenty of opportunities to exercise. Kids need exercise and movement. They were not designed to be plopped in front of a TV screen or an X-Box game for hours at a time (believe me, I KNOW this keeps ‘em quiet and out of your way—but it is a slacker way to parent—I know it, I’ve done it :D).
The solution is for each one of us to keep trying. Start packing lunches if you don’t already. One person can—and always has—made a difference. Because one turns into two, which turns into three, and pretty soon you have network of parents who are doing the same thing. If you are too busy to be “meal and fitness” organized for your children, you’d better rethink your “busy-ness”. Start small, if not already doing it; try it one time a week. Little things make a difference. Little sacrifices (of time) have an impact. You can do it, I know you can.