“Excessive weight gain in children under two years can lead to cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors in teenage years including increased cholesterol, being overweight and having fat around the middle,” states new research from the University of Sydney that was published in The Journal of Pediatrics.
“Our study found that there are two main pathways to obesity as a teenager — rapid weight gain in the first two years of life (early weight gain) or rapid weight gain between ages two and five years of age (later weight gain),” said senior author University of Sydney’s Professor David Celermajer, Scandrett Professor of Cardiology at Sydney Medical School and the Heart Research Institute. “Earlier onset of a rising BMI that persisted through childhood results in greater central fat and higher cholesterol in teenagers, independent of their BMI at 14 years.”
Co-author Professor Louise Baur, Head of Child & Adolescent Health at the University’s Sydney Medical School and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, said, “This study has shown that it is important for families and the community to understand the risks of excess weight gain in early life and to ensure healthy eating and activity are supported from a very young age.”
How can parents and toddlers remain physically fit together? Make physical activities and games FUN for the whole family! The key to successful participation is creativity and positive reinforcement as well as scheduling a regular time during the week as “family playtime.”
Try incorporating these games into your youngster’s playtime to ensure that he/she grows up understanding that fitness is fun:
- Silly Shakes – Just like the Raffi song says, “Shake your sillies out!” If you do it long enough, you’ll not only end up getting a great workout, you and your child will share some laughs.
- Balloon Ball – Play a game of volleyball using a balloon. Tie a piece of string between two chairs and use your hands to hit the balloon into your opponent’s territory. Or, play tennis by using old pantyhose wrapped around a bent coat hanger to create a racket. Playing balloon ball teaches and reinforces hand-eye coordination while burning calories. (Although, be mindful when toddlers play with balloons. Non-mylar balloons can become choking hazards when popped.)
- Play Tag – Enough said.
- Dance – Toddlers love music and dancing. Create your own dance party. Raid your closets to dress up and recreate your favorite music videos. Film them and, if you dare, load them onto YouTube to send to your extended family.
- Pushover Pop – I read about this idea on MommyPoppins.com. Plant your feet (or stand on one foot) and see if your child(ren) can budge you. If you move your feet, he/she wins.
- Bowling – Create your own bowling alley in the hallway. Use empty milk cartons or juice boxes as bowling pins and use a ball from the toy box as the bowling ball. This will help your child learn depth perception and how to aim.
- Toddler Stairmaster – Need a use for those diaper boxes? Create a “stairmaster” that your child will love. Stack diaper boxes into a pyramid and help your child climb up and down the “ramps.”
- Go to the Playground – Playing on the swing set or crossing the monkey bars is a great workout – for you and your child!
- Act Like an Animal – Walk like a penguin, hop like a frog or imitate other animals’ movements while making sounds like that animal. Use this exercise as a teachable moment to help your child recognize animal sounds and get ready to head to school.
- Play Catch – Include your whole family in the fun! Play catch – or fetch – with your dogs. Run around your house or backyard chasing and playing with your pets.
Children who are active tend to stay active throughout their lives. Staying fit can help maintain a healthy weight, improve self-confidence and decrease the risk of certain diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
Is your family in need of fitness assistance? Fitness for Health can help your family create a healthy, active lifestyle while having fun. We offer customized exercise programs designed to fit your exact needs and help you reach your unique health goals. And, we offer family workouts so families can become active together. Visit www.FitnessForHealth.org to learn about our programs or call us at 301-231-7138.