Wednesday, July 23, 2008

HEALTH MATTERS: Healthy Kids Are Fit Kids

“With childhood obesity rates at record highs — more than 16 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control — the approach to kids’ fitness is changing. While exercise for children was once viewed as fun and recreation, it is now considered a necessity, and more and more families are turning to their health clubs to help meet that need. In fact, more than five million children under age 18 belong to a fitness center, and children are one of the fastest growing markets for gym memberships, second only to baby boomers over age 55, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. Health clubs like the Princeton Fitness &Wellness Center recognize the need for fitness programs geared toward children and are expanding their offerings. In August, the Wellness Center, in partnership with Princeton Healthcare System, will offer its ‘Fit Kids’ series, which includes circuit training classes, Pilates instruction, exercise ball workouts, dance sessions and aquatic fitness classes. One of the keys to children’s fitness is to keep kids from getting bored and losing interest. Classes such as Groove and Zumba — a Latin-infused dance class — make working up a sweat fun. In addition to being fun, physical fitness has numerous health benefits for children. According to the CDC, regular physical activity helps to build and maintain healthy bones and muscles and helps to reduce the risk of developing obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and reduces feelings of depression and anxiety and promotes psychological well being. The CDC recommends that children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily. In addition, the CDC suggests parents help children to avoid too much sedentary time and recommends that parents limit the time their children watch television, play video games, or surf the Web to no more than two hours per day. It is important to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend television viewing for children age 2 or younger.”

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