Children, food and activity

kate_cater2

It is generally accepted that a balance between food (input) and activity (output) is imperative for maintaining a healthy weight and good overall health.

From newborn – and even earlier, if you count all that kicking inside mum’s tummy – kids are naturally active. Exercise is vital for children – it is great fun, it’s a fabulous way to learn, and is essential for healthy growth and development.

Health Benefits

More specifically, physical activity provides your child with many lasting health benefits, including:

  • strong bones and muscles
  • healthy heart, lungs and arteries
  • improved coordination, balance, posture and flexibility
  • a reduced risk of becoming overweight or obese
  • a reduced risk of later developing serious health problems such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes

Life Benefits

Physical activity not only provides physical benefits – it also has been shown to have wider positive outcomes for children.
Active kids are more likely to:

  • sleep better
  • concentrate
  • be confident
  • have enhanced self-esteem and be happy
  • manage stress
  • have a sense of belonging
  • share, take turns and cooperate

Not to mention that active kids are more likely to be active adults – so by encouraging your child to be active, you’re helping to establish a healthy lifelong habit.

Did you know?

It is recommended that children accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every day. This DOESN’T necessary mean playing sport or doing strenuous exercise, but simply means being active.

Toddlers and small children are generally active in short bursts of 5 – 15 minutes so look at the total amount of activity over a day rather than all at one time. Remember, children typically want to be active so harness this – encourage them and provide plenty of opportunities for activity.

Ideas to Encourage Activity

Below are some of my ideas to encourage activity and ensure it’s a fun part of your child’s day:

  • Firstly, and most importantly; find activities your child enjoys and is good at – try a range of activities (formal and informal) to find what suits your child.
  • Walking is a fantastic way to get exercise and is very sociable. You can start to take your child with you on walks when they are a baby in a sling or buggy. As they become older you can encourage them to walk some of the way.

As a guide, use the child’s age to gauge the distance they can comfortably walk – allow approximately 1km/birthday. For instance – a 2 year old can walk 2 km with rest breaks….but ultimately make it fun and let your little one dictate.

If it’s practical and not dangerous (i.e crossing major roads), encourage your child to walk to and from school. Many schools today have a walking school bus which is a safe way for your child to get to and from school.

If you live too far away to walk maybe park a few blocks from school and walk the last part with your child. This is a good way to spend quality time with your children and reduces congestion around the school gate. As much as possible, choose to walk or bike over taking the car. It not only is good for your child but it’s also better for the environment!

  • All activity counts – doing the chores, play, gardening, dancing, walking the dog, going on a family picnic, flying a kite, frisbee or playing in the garden are all examples of physical activity.
  • Put a limit on the time your child can spend on low-activity or sedentary pastimes such as watching TV, computer and other electronic games.
  • Be active as a family – spend active time with your child. As a family you can go for weekend walks, to the beach, swimming, play games or even go camping – anything you all enjoy. To make it fun, let your children help choose the activity for the family.
  • Encouraging and role modelling physically active choices is a great gift you can give your child – it will set them up with positive lifestyle habits and will go a long way to prevent weight problems associated with inactivity.

Yum Yum Kids Frittata Recipe

Here’s a great recipe to help your kids stay healty and active

Ingredients:

1 cup of self raising flour

salt & pepper

1 cup of grated cheese (1/2 cheese and 1/2 on top)

1 large onion

1 can corn

ham/bacon chopped up or you can use salmon, tuna or beans

grated courgettes

(It can also be nice to add in some diced cooked potatoes to up the carbohydrate content of the dish, just add it with the above ingredients)

3 eggs

1 cup milk

2 T oil

Method:

1. Shake first 7 ingredients together in a container

2. Shake liquid ingredients together

3. Combine & put mixture into a quiche dish or large muffin pans.

4. Place sliced tomato on top, sprinkle with cheese

5. Bake at 200 degrees celcius for 20 – 30 minutes or until browned

6. Once cool place in freezer if using for school lunches

Kate Carter

Kate Carter has spent the last six years working within the food and nutrition industry in a variety of roles. Ready for a change from the corporate world and excited about embracing two of her real passions in life, she took over Yum Yum Kids - New Zealand’s only online feeding specialist store.

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Categorised: Preschool, School Age

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