Youth Fitness Needs Our Attention

Mom, we’re doing an NFL Fitness test in PE and most of the kids can’t complete it.

My son came to me a few days ago with this gem. “Ok,” I thought, “maybe it’s a tough test.” So I asked for clarification. He said it was easy, he does more each day at TKD, but he’s shocked at his classmates. What he described sounded a little like a HIIT or interval workout, depending on how hardcore they were at monitoring rest breaks. Regardless, it didn’t sound too extensive and definitely not what the actual NFL goes through.

Let’s all agree this is hilarious. via

I tried to find more info on this “NFL Fitness Test”, but Google just helped solidify why I will never be a footballer. Example about the upper body strength test using the bench press, this test “requir[es] the athlete to press 225 lbs as many times as possible.”  *Sigh*

The real point is: our children are unhealthy. Most of us are aware of the restricted recess and PE times our kids have. Most of us know that sitting is bad and have clicked at least once on a headline about how “sitting is KILLING YOU!!!” Most of us are aware that something needs to change, but what?

To be completely clear. This is NOT the fault of the educators. This is NOT the fault of individual parents. This is not the government, or a conspiracy, or a tirade on how fat kids are. No. Many of these kids aren’t even overweight, they’re just lack cardiovascular fitness because they’ve never had to maintain it. This is not a fault issue, but it is an important one.

So here’s what I think. I think we need to be more diligent about talking to our kids. Rather than just finding out how school was, ask if it was a recess or PE day. Ask how often they were able to be active. If they ran around in the 112 degree heat for 30 min, great! (Not great, it’s awful hot, but stick with me.) If they had other “specials” or recess was cancelled or whatever, consider taking a family walk around the block.

If you’re child hasn’t moved most of the day, help them move. Most of us haven’t moved enough. We know this because, as adults, we’re attached to our wearable tech like it’s a lifeline to health. Our kids don’t monitor their steps, but you can encourage them to move a little more.

The WHO recommends “children and youth aged 5–17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.”

Here are a few ways to help get that number in:

  • After work/school walk around the neighborhood while discussing the day’s events. If you have a dog, take her. She’ll love you even more.
  •  Create an cone obstacle course in the yard. Sprint, run backward, slalom, skip, etc from cone to cone. You can use shoes, rocks, a well trained dog, whatever, in place of “cones”. Do it for time for an added aerobic boost.
  • Remember that baseball/football/frisbee/badminton/Nerf ball you bought to play with the kids? It’s in the back of the closet. Dust it off.
  •  Have a playground nearby? Turn THAT into an obstacle course. Monkey bars are B-A-N-A-N-A-S
  • Hula hoops, sidewalk chalk, even scavenger hunts are inexpensive and easy ways to get everyone moving.
  • Rainy day? I recommend: Twister, indoor scavenger hunts, and puddle jumping if you have rain boots. Seriously, no one’s going to melt. Don’t forget to strategically place towels by the door before heading out!
  • Group fitness classes/bootcamps. Get a group of kids together and challenge them to push ups, jumping jacks, burpees, long jumps, squats, front kicks, sprints, etc. A small group of kids can really be fun, silly, and energizing. No weights required, just get moving!

If you’re local, contact me. I’d love to get a kids fitness camp up and running. I’m a CPT who wants to get kids active.

If you’re not local, consider starting a little group yourself. Or share your hot tips for getting kids away from screen time and sweating to the hip pop.