Medium 9781591200994

Fit Kids for Life

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Good nutrition and exercise learned as a child can mean a long and active life as an adult. This book helps readers foster these healthy habits in their children.

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1. The Benefits of Exercise and Sports Participation for Kids

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ny child in America today who decides to participate in sports usually does so for one simple reason: fun. Now, if only the decision was that elementary for parents, who are often unsure of the impact that exercise and sports may have on their childs physical development and academic achievement. Fortunately for parents, as research can attest, exercise and sports offer tremendous opportunities for social relationships, physical challenges, and honest competition. There is even evidence that sports can increase a childs self-esteem and academic performance, while decreasing the likelihood of disease and drug use.1 Then again, to a child, all of these attributes equal just one desirable characteristic: fun.

Participating in sports and exercise promotes a positive attitude toward activity that will likely continue into adulthood.

Athletic participation and training for sports can provide a myriad of benefits that few other activities offer. But the burden of responsibility has increased for parents. We live in a lazy society and for many kids the word sports means playing video games. Today, leisure time for children is significantly less devoted to rigorous activities. The hardest part is just getting them to start exercising. On the bright side, research has also shown that participating in sports and exercise at a young age promotes a positive attitude toward activity that will likely continue into adulthood.

 

2. Simple Rules of Exercise for Kids

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esearch shows that it is safe for children to lift weights and exercise. It will not, as rumored, stunt their growth, break their bones, fill them with rage, or abruptly and profoundly drop their IQ. A child who lifts weights can still take part in intellectual pursuits, finish his or her homework, or become a computer whiz. And weight training and working out may actually help improve performance in these areas. No, not in a bigger biceps will make them a stronger artist sort of wayrather, pumping iron and becoming fit can do wonders for a childs self-esteem and confidence, and it will add to their energy reserves and motivation, not detract from them. Plus, stronger muscles can make a child a better athlete.

So, lets get something straight right from the get-go: weight lifting, when done correctly, is not dangerous. In fact, its quite healthy and has been shown to reduce the prevalence of injury, both in the weight room and out on the field of play.1 Do not surrender yourself to the myth that lifting weights is dangerous for your children, regardless of what many conventional doctors may claim. Studies have repeatedly shown that poor technique and lifting habits lead to injury, whether youre nine or thirty-nine.2 Proper exercise training can set your kid off on the right foot for a lifetime of growth (inner and outer) and achievement.

 

3. Strength Training and Conditioning for Kids

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Contributed by Joel Raether, M.A.Ed., and Michael S. Sanders, M.A.Ed., CSCS

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unning and weight trainingin a nutshell, these are the two main components of an effective exercise program. We know running is generally considered good for you, but what about weight lifting?

 

 

• Does weight training stunt growth? This is actually a myth.

• Will lifting weights injure a child? Not if it is done safely with proper supervision and training.

• At what age can my child start lifting weights? The simple answer isat any age that he or she wants, as long as adult supervision is present. Take, for instance, the age at which girls start gymnastics: often as young as two years old! Gymnastics is similar to weight training, except that in gymnastics you lift your body weight rather than a barbell, dumbbell, or other implement. But always remember, safety should be the main concern when considering weight lifting for your child.

This chapter will examine some of the common misconceptions regarding strength training for children, as well as look at developmental considerations, injury concerns, and program design. It will discuss coaching children, clarify gender-specific concerns surrounding strength training for children, and provide sample training programs.

 

4. Basic Nutrition for Fit Kids

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s a parent, you want to see your children succeed, prosper, and remain healthy throughout their lives. You sit down and help with their homework, play catch, and teach them the lessons of life so they dont make the same mistakes you did. Parents have a tremendous burden and responsibility in caring for their children. Instilling discipline is one of the hallmarks of raising a child and, interestingly, a lot of that discipline is introduced at the dinner table, isnt it? Well then, what better place to teach them some nutritional discipline as well?

Now, we are sure youre doing a fine job already. In hundreds of research studies spanning the last decade, there have been surprisingly few startling revelations concerning children and nutrition. Getting a child to eat their vegetables is no less important now than it was fifty years ago. But a parents job rearing children is tougher than ever and, in the area of nutrition, it has become astoundingly difficult. Unlike fifty years ago, when dinner was at six oclock sharp and the whole family ate together, we now deal with considerably more time constraints and outside influences that not only affect the way we live, but how we eat. Weve become a society on the run.

 

5. Healthy Meals and Snacks

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he previous chapter looked at the basics of healthy eating for active kids. Now, on a practical level, you need to find convenient foods that will give your kids the nutrition they need and fit your hectic schedule. There are many ways to fuel your kids bodies so that they maintain energy levels throughout the day. You probably dont have time to count calories or grams of carbohydrates and fat. Instead, we suggest that you provide your child with various food choices, both foods to emphasize and foods to limit. Many of the foods that you emphasize may not be on your childs list of top foods, and the foods you limit may be among their favorites. But part of teaching children proper nutrition is presenting them with good and not-so-good choices. Ultimately, they will learn what foods serve them best. Besides, you cant force your child to eat good foods. Its like the old proverb: Catch a fish for someone and you feed him for a day, but if you teach him to fish, you feed him for life. Teach your child to fish for healthy foods.

 

6. Special Nutritional Needs During Exercise

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our child does not have to be a professional athlete to take advantage of proper pre- and postexercise nutrition, and to do so does not require a nutritionist. Most kids and adolescents have only a fleeting notion of the importance of food, especially when it comes to its impact on exercise and sports. Well, its about time for that to change. The fundamentals are simple and, once the extraordinary benefits are realized, success will become your childs own motivation to continue.

PRE-EXERCISE NUTRITION

What should your child eat before exercise? We suggest that a meal should be consumed two to three hours before a game or match. Preferably, this meal should contain unprocessed carbohydrates (vegetables and unrefined starches such as oats or brown rice), lean meats (chicken without the skin), and copious amounts of water. It is important as well that your child choose foods that he or she is accustomed tothis is no time to experiment with new food choices. How much your child consumes depends on body weight and age. We do suggest that your child stay away from fatty foods since these take a long time to digest. Plus, your child should consume simple carbohydrates (such as sports drinks) ten minutes or less before the match and keep consuming them throughout the game, when possible.

 

7. Tips for Gaining and Losing Weight

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ids these days are getting hit from all anglesif not physically on the football field or basketball court, theyre bombarded by peer pressure and media messages of who and what they should be. At earlier ages than ever before, they become concerned witheven obsessed bytheir physical appearance. It seems, for young girls, that the emphasis on being thin is reaching epidemic proportions. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, an estimated 51 percent of girls ages nine to ten feel better about themselves if they are on a diet. For young boys, the pressure to gain muscle and dominate opposing athletes is now evident on every level of play. What often gets lost in the desire to lose or gain weight is how to do it the right waythe healthy way.

No ten-year-old is going to have the emotional maturity to develop and maintain a proper diet and exercise regimen. Children may only know that thin is in or be concerned with how much they can bench press. There is a right way to gain weight and a right way to lose weight, and ultimately its up to the parents to instill healthy habits.

 

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