You have been saturated with the fact that America needs to get fit; especially the youth of America. You care about the health of your children, you want them to be fit and happy, but you also know as a seasoned parent that being a kid has alot of temptations. Including less-than-healthful habits...however you don't have to be thin to be fit!!
You don't have to be thin to be fit!!
Read it again: You don't have to be thin to be fit!!
Sure being thin may be more likely to correspond with better health, but this is only because obesity is what's known as a marker for an unhealthy lifestyle.
Can you be Fit and Fat?
The answer quite simply is yes! Studies have shown that people who exercise, heavy or not, were two and a half times less likely to get heart disease.
Can you be Skinny and Fat?
Those who appear skinny to the naked eye, but are unfit are still at risk of health problems. "Fat Maps" show where people store fat. It is assessed by an MRI and those people that don't maintain their weight with a combination of exercise and diet keep huge fat deposits around their internal organs.
"Fat" and Active people have a much lower mortality rate than the "Skinny" and Sedentary.
"The whole concept of being fat needs to be redefined"
5 Ways to Know if You're Fit
1. Don't look at the scale!! In a Surgeon General's report in the early 2000's, Steven Blair M.D. wrote that "We need to stop hounding people about their weight and encourage them to eat healthful diets and exercise".
Weight is not an accurate measure since both muscle and fat have a different density.
As you burn off fat (lesser density), you will inevitably be toning and building those muscle groups which you are working (if cardio, most likely legs). That is why you can be the same weight in 3 months but have a completely different physique.
Too much cardio and you will break down muscle and fat. You need Strength Training, especially the kind that uses large muscle groups which in turn burns a good amount of calories through the repair process, such as legs (squats).
Body fat % is the best measurement, but it is not accessible to many. Use standards subjective to you:
- Your personal record time for running a mile
- Your ability to do 10 push ups when previously you could only do 1
2. Aerobic endurance: How well does your body transport oxygen.
This baseline fitness parameter aids every fitness effort from running a marathon to yardwork.
Indicators of good aerobic fitness are:
- low resting heart rate
- the ability to recover quickly after cardiovascular activity
3. Muscle Mass: Like Body Fat our bodies require a certain percentage of muscle to stay healthy.
The amount varies per individual, but we all need muscle to meet the tasks of daily living. It is vital to keep our muscle mass percentages high, since above the age of 30 our bodies begin to lose muscle mass each year.
4. Flexibility: This is your ability to move your body freely through a full range of motion.
It is important to stretch our muscles because they contract during exercise and during the daily rigors of living! Keeping your muscles supple gives you a better buffer against being injured and is a great indicator of overall fitness.
5. Strength: This is the ability to use your muscles to generate force. Your body needs to be able to move stuff around.
As we age, we lose muscle mass and strength. Mass protects your body, Strength moves it and keeps it from falling over. Strength training requires short bouts of high-intensity outputs which stimulate hormonal responses that also decline as we age.
Strength training slows the aging process! The stronger you are, the slower you age!
What Can Parents Do??
Emphasize with your children that:
1. Healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that's wonderful.
2. Physical activity gives you a great feeling of energy and exhilaration and a good feeling of relaxed tiredness when you're done.
3. Moving your body is a great time for family togetherness.
That's why we exercise not for some idealized body image!
We need to give our children healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
We need to provide our children with tools they can use to be able to assess and evaluate their own level of fitness.
We need to put our children in charge of their own physical fitness.
Children who are overweight and unfit are at risk of:
1. High Blood Pressure
2. High Cholesterol
3. Insulin Resistance/Type 2 Diabetes
60% of children who are overweight have at least one of these risk factors.
Another 20% have:
1. Bone and Joint Problems
2. Shortness of Breath, Asthma, Sleep Apnea
3. Earlier Sexual Maturation in Girls and Menstrual Problems as they get older
4. Social Discrimination, Teasing, Depression
5. Liver and Gallbladder disease
Physical Activity and Fitness are not only important to improve health. Recent studies have indicated that physical activity and fitness levels are associated with improved academic outcomes, including academic performance, attendance, and discipline (truancy, drugs, alcohol and violence).
1. Family Fun and Fitness: Getting Healthy and Staying Healthy Together by Knute Keeling. Many of the concepts on this webpage were adopted from this amazing book on how to get your family fit.
3. Walkingwithattitude.com: This is a virtual walking website that allows you to track your walking progress and view virtual maps and challenges. Each map provides you with photos, and facts on each exciting destination.