As pediatricians in Phoenix, we at Pediatrix have been increasingly aware that childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic across the country. Too often parents are late to recognize that their children have become overweight. Children are developing heart disease, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes, which was previously known as “adult onset diabetes.” Being overweight also affects children’s psychological well being, reducing their self-worth and coping skills. The longer a child is overweight the more likely it is they will be overweight as an adult. We must take steps to break such an unhealthy cycle.
Like adults, kids need exercise. Children need at least one hour of physical activity every day. Early childhood is the best time to establish good fitness habits so kids can enjoy exercise rather than learning to avoid it.
Regular exercise helps children
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Develop healthy bones, muscles, and joints
- Increase self-confidence and self esteem
- Build a strong immune system
- Have more energy
- Reduce anxiety, depression, and improve overall mood
- Have better quality sleep
Unfortunately, the popularity of video games and television has resulted in a steep decline in children taking part in regular exercise and outdoor activities. Parents should limit “technology time” and encourage children to play outside. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that screen time (television and video games) be limited to 1-2 hours a day. Including the whole family in outdoor or physical daily activities can set a good example and be fun for everyone.
As pediatricians in Phoenix, we see the many opportunities to get outside and enjoy our beautiful weather. We encourage you to help your children form healthy habits. The earlier they learn to make exercise a part of their daily life, the more likely they are to grow up healthy and become active adults.
If you are concerned about your child’s weight or have questions about healthy exercise contact Pediatrix, your pediatricians in Phoenix. Make an appointment to discuss healthy exercise plans for the whole family.
Subir K. Mitra, MD, FAAP
Posted in Blog on January 5th, 2012