Aug 17, 201208:54 AMDaily News
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With a variety of options, kids need to get outside
I proudly consider myself a member of the Nintendo generation.
I grew up with each system, and spent hours upon hours navigating levels and castles on my quest to save Zelda or Princess Peach or whoever was in danger.
My mom tried to limit how much my brother and I played by banning us from Nintendo on Sundays—she later amended the rule to include XBOX, and somehow she knew when I went to a friend’s house to play. She eventually limited how much we played during the week.
Kids growing up in this decade have even more distractions than the latest Mario or Zelda game. Facebook, cell phones, iPads and the like are all great things and can keep kids busy for hours.
But as childhood obesity rates continue to rise in this country, maybe it’s time parents start limiting the devices and sending the kids outside.
I know, you may be thinking, “Not another lecture about obesity.”
I’m sick of it too, but I realize people must not be getting the message because the problem isn’t going away. The fact is kids need to turn off the devices and get active.
Admittedly, the food kids eat plays a major role in this, but that’s not all of it. It’s a combination, and playing sports and being active is more fun than eating diet foods.
The numbers don’t lie. According to the Get American Fit Foundation, obesity is the No. 2 cause of preventable death in the U.S. It can lead to a host of medical problems ranging from heart disease to diabetes to even some forms of cancer. A recent study on Yahoo! showed Pennsylvania is the 20th most obese state in the country with 28.6 percent of adults being obese.
One last stat to bore you with: There are more than 9 million children between the ages of 9 and16 that are overweight or obese. It starts young, and parents are the key to fighting it early.
To their credit, many schools across the nation are addressing childhood weight issues by banning sugary drinks from cafeterias, as well as other measures. That’s good, but it can only do so much; that has virtually no effect if kids can just get the drinks and food at home.
There’s no doubt a healthy diet is key to fighting obesity, but exercise is just as important and much more enjoyable.
The CDC recommends getting an hour or more physical activity per day. An hour a day? That’s nothing. If kids find an activity they like, I’m certain they’ll want to play it for more than just one hour a day.
In college, one of the highlights of my week was “Football Friday” with the rest of my Daily Collegian sports staff. I was always disappointed when the game ended, and we played for nearly three hours each week.
This week on centralpennparent.com, we took a look at five non-traditional sports. Some are better exercise than others, but all are great examples of fun ways to get outside and get moving. There’s obviously countless more—gymnastics, swimming, martial arts, etc.—in addition to the main team sports in America of baseball, football, hockey, soccer and basketball.
Admittedly I never had weight problems, but I credit that to playing with my friends outside after school each afternoon.
I remember playing steet hockey, football, baseball, soccer and any other sport we could with my friends all the time, not because it’d make us healthy, but because it was fun.
Sports aren’t for everyone, I know. But there are so many activities out there to choose from, I believe there’s something for everyone. Disc golf, lawn games, rowing, skating and paintball are just a couple we looked at this week. There’s countless more that kids can enjoy.
And parents can join in, too. Why not have a family kickball game one night after dinner? Turn off the games and take away the tablets and phones and send the kids outside. They’ll create habits that’ll benefit them the rest of their lives, and by taking away the games or devices you’ll be helping your kid in the short term and even more so in the long run.
Ultimately, saving the princess can wait for that.
Kurt Bopp is assistant editor/web for Central Penn Parent. Though his natural athletic ability is limited, he does love to play any and all sports with hockey and football being his favorites.