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Fighting Obesity & Raising Healthy Children Through Sports

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Fighting Obesity & Raising Healthy Children Through Sports

Since I’m concentrating on home improvement, parenting, and overall life improvement recently, I have been paying attention to some different stuff. I was walking next to a children’s playground the other day that was completely empty. It got me thinking, why are there no children playing here?

The era of digitalization and virtual reality is progressing rapidly, and we find ourselves stuck to modern entertainment more than ever before. Many of our children are addicted to video games and social networks and have lost their interest for playgrounds like these. A sedentary lifestyle — a lack of activity — is one of the factors that may lead to obesity, which is one of the most common health problems in the world today.

During my walk, I encountered a group of youngsters all looking for Pokémon. It got me thinking — at least there is something that brings kids out of their rooms, off the couches. If there is a possibility to stimulate children to be active and healthy, it should be understood better and shared. Around one-third of children are obese today. While obesity can be caused by medical issues or just genetics, as parents there are some easy things we can do to reduce the risk. We all want our kids to be happy, healthy, and to grow into healthy people.

Children are our future, and we must take this issue seriously.

A positive attitude towards the solution is the best answer and a foundation for the future generations. Healthy living is our obligation, our necessity, our right. Our children can have healthy lives, and we are the ones responsible for them. It’s not that hard — we only need to be smart and make some good decisions.

Proper education during the raising of children is important, no doubt about that, but being healthy is not something you can tutor your child in. This is actual, physical work.

The quickest and most cost-effective way to achieve this is to get your child interested in sports.

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Of course, you don’t need to enlist your child in every available sports activity; letting them choose one will be quite sufficient. There are numerous advantages of staying active, and, according to some experts, not all of them are of a physical nature.

Here are some suggestions to help in raising healthy children:

Preschool

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    During this period, your kid should be focused on exploring the world and their surroundings, learning about them, and having fun. It would be smart to restrict any usage of modern technology, simply because kids get addicted to it pretty quickly.

    Although it may seem difficult to keep up the pace with children as they wiggle and run around, do your best. Try to be a part of their world. Here’s an interesting idea for some quality time with your kid — obtain a trampoline for your yard or house. This will probably be a fulfillment of your childhood dream, and your kid will enjoy it as well.

    A trampoline will provide a lot of playtime for your youngster, and you can join the party. It relieves stress and enhances balance and natural stamina. Jumping on a trampoline together will strengthen the child-parent bond, which will benefit both of you in the long term.

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    Swimming

    raising healthy children - swimming

      One of the rare sports which can literally be prescribed by doctors, swimming can benefit your child in many ways. To move the body through the water, all muscle groups need to be active, so a benefit is seen from the very beginning. Lung capacity is also increased.

      Trust can be built with swimming, as the parent can show and teach a child the basics of breathing, swimming, and most importantly, overcoming the fear of water. This is a vital cornerstone for building a solid foundation of trust and an excellent opportunity to bond.

      Dancing

      raising healthy children - dancing
        Photo by Meg Stewart via Flickr, Creative Commons license

        Children simply love to dance. Whether it be to hard rock music and Whitesnake or R&B with Beyoncé, they will swing their hips and enjoy it. Flowing with the music is one of the best feelings ever, topped only by flowing with skills and knowledge. Feet and body coordination will be improved, as well as motor skills. Other benefits include reduced risk of osteoporosis, increased heart and lung condition, muscle tone, and many others.

        Also, social skills and building confidence are part of dancing. This is important, especially in a modern world. As a parent, you have the responsibility of recognizing which kind of music your child likes best, and trying to find that or similar kinds of dance lessons. Who knows, perhaps you will start as well?

        Basketball

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          Around the age of two, kids start trying to dribble the ball. Later, as their coordination improves, they become better and better at doing so. The art of putting the ball through the hoop will benefit them in terms of improving eye-hand coordination, increasing jump height, and building stamina and endurance.

          Basketball is also a team sport, which means that your child will learn how to be a useful part of the group, and how to think fast, thus improving their reflexes. Socializing is also a plus, meaning that the child will have friends apart from school, broadening their views.

          Martial arts

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            The world we are living in is not as friendly as we would love it to be. Sometimes we have to think in advance to be prepared. To be clear, not all martial arts are violent and bloody. Take aikido for example. The art of defending yourself with care for the opponent may seem like a strange combination, but it builds courage and self-confidence.

            If your child knows that if someone wants to hurt them, he or she can defend themselves without a fatal outcome, it will develop a into significant part of their personality. It can teach them how to bear with stress and other problems once they grow up. Of course, there are other arts as well. Capoeira is a combination of dance and martial art, and with its jumping and twisting it can seems rather interesting to kids.

            Soccer

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              The art of kicking the ball is one of the most popular sports today. Role models such as Leo Messi and David Beckham are present on children’s posters, but there is more under the surface. Excellent stamina and feet, eye, and body coordination are the most common benefits for those who decide to enlist in this sport. Kids also feel great when accomplishing something as part of the team, so they will be overjoyed once their team wins. If you are a soccer fan, be sure to introduce them to some of your favorite classic players and their personality.

              Gymnastics

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                Present in human society since the dawn of civilization, this sport was considered as art for ancient Greeks and therefore was part of the Olympics since the beginning. Those kids who enlist in this sport may continue practicing it, or it can be considered as a foundation for any other sport. Practicing gymnastics, your child can develop muscle tone and flexibility.

                It’s not that hard to raise a healthy child

                The most important thing is to make your youngster try several activities, and see which one they enjoy the best. After that, make sure you’re helping them progress and not forcing anything. The love for the game will do the rest.

                There is no better way to improve our children’s health than sports. Not just physical development, but emotional and mental as well; this is the way to create better people and thus a better future.

                Are you raising a youngster at the moment? Let us know how you do it!

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                Last Updated on October 7, 2021

                Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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                Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

                In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

                Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

                There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

                Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

                Let’s get started, shall we?

                Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

                Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

                1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

                When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

                Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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                “Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

                2. Teaches the Value of Family

                Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

                According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

                3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

                Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

                “Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

                For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

                4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

                How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

                “If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

                5. Creates a Safe Environment

                If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

                Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

                6. Reduces Stress

                This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

                According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

                So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

                How to Make Family Time Happen

                Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

                1. Family Dinners

                This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

                Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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                “Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

                According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

                As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

                2.  Regular Movie Nights

                This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

                Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

                3. Game Night

                This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

                In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

                So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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                4. Sharing a Hobby

                If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

                Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

                Final Thoughts

                Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

                Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

                The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

                Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

                Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
                [2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
                [3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
                [4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
                [5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
                [6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
                [7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
                [8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
                [9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
                [10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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