Susitna Elementary School PE teacher Ben Elbow and his daughter
Kids need to move. I know because I see it every day as an elementary school physical education teacher. I see the spring in the step of an 8-year-old boy when he suddenly jumps up to touch the top of a doorframe. I see the grins on their faces when kids walk through the doors of the gym and immediately start running and jumping and skipping and dancing. I see the joy in my daughter’s smile when she gets to the bottom of the sledding hill. Kids need to move. And it’s our job as parents to make sure they play every day for at least an hour.
Looking for more justification? About three out of ten children in Alaska are overweight or obese. Weighing too much can lead to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes – even in childhood. So what can we do about that? Get out and play. National health experts recommend that children get 60 minutes of daily physical activity
for good health.
One of the best ways to encourage your children to move and play is to join them. Walk the neighborhood, giving you a chance to stretch your legs, relax your mind, and catch up on life with your kids. Take them out and shovel the neighbor’s driveway. They’ll burn off some energy and learn the value of a good deed. Take a family sledding trip to a local park. Don’t have time to join them? While you cook dinner, send the kids outside to build a sledding hill in your yard, make the world’s greatest snowman, or just play hide and seek. They’ll have a warm dinner waiting for them when they come inside.
Your kids are happy when they move and play. They’re healthier when they move and play. Did you know that regular movement and exercise also improves children’s brain activity and may lead to higher test scores in school? Happier, healthier, and smarter? What’s not to love?
Kids need to move. Let’s make sure we help them do it.
Ben Elbow is a physical education teacher at Susitna Elementary School in Anchorage, Alaska.