November is American Diabetes Month, during which the American Diabetes Association strives to educate the nation about this serious and widespread disease. Diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce or properly use insulin, the hormone which helps the body process glucose for energy. It is estimated that nearly 30 million children and adults in America have diabetes, including 8.1 million who are undiagnosed.
America Gets Cooking to Stop Diabetes is an initiative designed to inspire people to become healthier and reduce their risk for diabetes by cooking nutritious foods and getting active. Being physically inactive and overweight increases the risk of developing diabetes.
Benefits of an Early Active Lifestyle
More than one third of children and adolescents in the United States were overweight or obese in 2012. This puts kids at risk for numerous medical problems, including diabetes. Instilling healthy habits at a young age is important to maintaining an active lifestyle throughout life.
There are a variety of benefits from engaging in regular physical activity at an early age:
- Helps maintain a healthy weight
- Builds strong muscles and healthy bones
- Improves self-confidence
- Allows kids to discover the world around them
How to Encourage Active Kids
It doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive to implement physical activity into a child’s life. Most children are curious and energetic by nature, and should ‘jump’ at the chance to get moving! Follow these simple guidelines when introducing exercise to children:
DO find an activity that your child enjoys. If they enjoy it, they are more likely to stick to it. Allow them to explore a range of activities and discover their athletic talents.
DO keep it simple and/or age appropriate.
DO give kids plenty of opportunities. Scheduled and accessible activities make it easy to incorporate physical activities on a daily basis. Breaking up activity throughout the day also allows your kids to get the recommended amount of exercise without disrupting their schedule.
DON’T be domineering or negative. Maintain a positive and supportive attitude while trying to encourage physical activity. The most important thing is that your child is getting active in a safe and healthy manner.
Physical Family Activities
Can’t think of engaging activities to enjoy as a family? We’ve got you covered!
Try out our suggested list of physical family activities:
- Walk or bike with your children to and from school
- Build a tree house during school breaks
- Go roller skating as a family
- Take the family dog – or neighbor’s dog – for a walk
- Participate in a 5k for charity
- Fly a kite
- Partake in group sports
- Crank up the music and have a dance party
- Turn household chores into a game
- Create and care for a family garden
Don’t let our list limit you! Find physical activities that your family will love. Living an active lifestyle can be fun, and when you engage as a family, you spend valuable time bonding and getting fit.