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Healthy Children

Road to Wellness

By Terry Bryan · July 5th, 2006 · The Road to Wellness
I'm often asked by parents why exercise or physical activity is important for their child. Increased physical activity has been associated with an increased life expectancy and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Physical activity produces overall physical, psychological and social benefits. Inactive children are likely to become inactive adults.

In addition, according to the American Heart Association, physical activity helps with:

· Controlling weight,

· Reducing blood pressure,

· Raising HDL ("good") cholesterol,

· Reducing the risk of diabetes and some kinds of cancer

· And improved psychological well-being, including gaining more self-confidence and higher self-esteem

So what can we do for our children?

Low Impact Plyometric: Incorporate programs using minimum free weights so as not to affect the growth plates. Allow them to use their body weight as resistance like with squatting, jumping, climbing, throwing, twisting, cycling, pushups, running, lunging, pullups, situps, box jumps, shadow boxing, skipping, jumping jacks, hopscotch and a lot of other fun stuff.

Use three sets of eight, 10, 12 or 15 reps. Beginning after the age of 12, light free weights can be used with some rep sets higher (15-20) for any of the exercises completed in the gym. Be very careful with machines that can be hard on the natural movements of the child's body.

Nutrition: Read labels. Try to keep your children off hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. Move them toward healthy, natural products, and eliminate as much saturated fat from their diets as possible. Add quality clean proteins such as chicken and fish to their diets (and not fried, by the way).

Water: Distilled, filtered and spring water are best for you. Try to have them drink water throughout the day to hydrate their systems. Start eliminating sports drinks, sodas and juices that are high in sugar.

Cardio: Walking, swimming, bicycling and getting children active on a daily basis will greatly contribute to their overall cardiovascular health. Introduce them to sports they'll enjoy.

Summary: We all lead by example, and our children are aware of what we do and what we eat. Parents should try to be role models for active lifestyles and provide children with opportunities for increased physical activity.

TERRY BRYAN runs Terry Bryan's Training Center in Kenwood, focusing on total body fitness from weight training to cardiovascular workouts to proper diet. Contact him at Cintitrainer@aol.com.


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