9 Ways for Your Child to Be Physically Fit & HealthyJuly 11, 2017
By Jessica Vician
Did you know that the President Physical Fitness Test—the gym class staple that you might have loved if you were athletic and loathed if you weren't—ended in 2016? Without those annual check-ins to see how your elementary student did in comparison with their peers, how can you gauge their level of physical fitness and health?
The good news is that the President's Challenge has been replaced with the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, which better assesses a student's overall health instead of only athletic fitness. According to the Health and Human Services website, this program focuses on helping students stay fit for life—not just for an annual test. This means that your child is learning to be active and eat well for their lifetime instead of only focusing on athletic competitions.
Being active and eating well for life is such an important lesson that it needs to be practiced in and out of school. As you know, healthy decisions and patterns you start now can stay with your child throughout their lifetime, so use the tips below to make healthy decisions for your family.
Get 60 minutes of physical activity every day
Your child needs 60 minutes of physical activity five days a week. You need at least 30 minutes. Try these small activities to reach those goals:
- Walk to a neighborhood friend's house instead of driving. Let your child bike, skateboard, or scooter while you walk.
- Wash the car by hand together. Let your child wipe down the interiors while you start on the exterior. Then switch and vacuum while your child soaps up the exterior parts they can reach.
- Start a vegetable garden and tend to it daily. From watering to weeding, you and your child will gain activity points while reaping healthy vegetables to eat once they've grown.
- After dinner, head outside to the basketball hoop (in your driveway or at a nearby park) for a few rounds of Horse.
Ensure meals & snacks hit all the food groups
Each meal should offer a lean protein, fruit or vegetable, and a whole grain.
- Focus on one food group per snack, like a hard-boiled egg for protein in the morning, and an apple and peanut or almond nut butter in the afternoon for a fruit and protein.
- Switch from sodas, juices, and sports drinks to water. For flavor, make an herbal (non-caffeinated) iced tea or add strawberries and cucumbers to water.
- Get creative with your grains. Instead of regular pasta, try farro, bulgar, barley, or quinoa. You can even find quinoa pasta at the grocery store for a healthier option in your favorite shape.
- Find a recipe for your family's favorite restaurant or take-out meal. Cooking it at home will eliminate a lot of extra sodium, sugar, and fat.
- Reroute your family's sugar cravings away from candy bars, cookies, and other processed sweets and satisfy them with lots of fruits. The natural sugars are a healthy way to feed the craving.
What tips do you have for establishing healthy practices for your kids in the early years that will stay with them for life? Share in the comments below.