Health & Fitness Advice
HEALTH & FITNESS
I feel that as the PE specialist here at Town Lane Infant School I should continue to raise awareness of the increasing obesity levels of our children today across the UK. Whilst it’s best to encourage healthy eating among the whole family, some children may be reluctant to change their eating habits.
Here are some tips to get children eating healthily without them even realising.
• Add more vegetables to favourite dishes – for example, add finely sliced mushrooms to Bolognese, finely chopped red pepper to tomato sauces and steamed leeks to mashed potato.
• Serve big portions of vegetables they like – sweetcorn, carrots and peas are often popular.
• Mix together grated carrot and Red Leicester cheese and use to fill sandwiches and jacket potatoes – the colours blend so well they may not notice the carrot.
• Buy lower-fat versions of sausages, burgers and oven chips and grill or oven bake them rather than frying. Alternatively, make your own homemade burgers and swap chips for homemade potato wedges – simply cut potatoes in their skins into wedges, brush with a little olive oil and bake in the oven until they are soft in the middle and crispy on the outside.
• Buy lower-fat versions of crisps and biscuits and opt for the smallest bags available.
• Add barley, beans or lentils to soups, stews and other meaty dishes – children won’t notice baked beans in a cottage pie or lentils in a stew.
• Buy sugar-free squashes and fizzy drinks – if the children complain, pour them into empty bottles of the standard variety when they’re not looking.
• If children won’t eat wholemeal or granary bread, try high-fibre white bread for sandwiches and toast. • If you can’t get your children to give up sugary cereals, mix them with lower sugar varieties such as a handful each of Frosties and Cornflakes, or Rice Krispies and Coco Pops.
• Use whole-wheat pasta in pasta bakes – when mixed with sauce it’s impossible to tell it’s not white.
• For children who are resistant to brown rice or wholemeal pasta, cook half of each and then mix together.
It's understandable that parents are overwhelmed by their busy lives and also that they are confused due to all the information on proper parenting being aimed at them. The promising notion underlying these questions is that most parents understand the importance of getting their child or children fit.
But where to start?
Busy lives become "barriers" to exercise. To help overcome such “barriers” I recommend a simple body weight programme that can be completed at home. There is no need for equipment, machines, or a lot of space. This home training programme is great for any child up to 12 years old. Of course, you may have to adjust the intensity level based on your child's abilities.
Simple Home Training Programme for Children.
1.Start with a light aerobic-type of exercise for 2-3 minutes. This can be walking or jogging on the spot or jumping jacks. This gets your heart pumping and warms up your joints and muscles.
2. Follow this with 2-3 minutes of light range of motion movements or active stretches. Start by working from your head down to your toes. Side-side neck rolls, shoulder and arm circles in both directions, trunk twists in both directions, hip circles, leg side-side swings, standing toe touches. These types of movements allow children to learn body awareness. This helps them learn new skills and develops balance and flexibility. With younger children, I always direct them to "reach to the left with your right hand," turn the right leg outward, etc. It's great to see how fast they progress from totally confused to actually feeling the stretch and doing the movement properly.
3. Push-ups from your knees or against a wall. Do as many as you can without stopping.
4. Body Squats: Feet shoulder-width apart, hands on your hips, lower your body as if you're sitting in a chair behind you. Repeat this for 1-2 minutes without bending your knees more than 90 degrees.
5. Stomach Crunches: Lying on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor and hands on your thighs. Raise your shoulders off the ground until your hands slide up your leg and cover your knees. Return to starting position and continue for 1-2 minutes.
6. Wall Sit: Leaning against a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart, slowly lower your body to a sitting position. Make sure your feet are in line with your knees and not too close to the wall. Stay in this position for up to 2 minutes.
7. Shake your body out, get a drink of water and repeat 1-6 in order two more times.
This programme will take anywhere from 15-25 minutes, depending on your child's fitness level. Try this programme at least three days a week. Don't forget to change things up every couple of weeks to keep your child interested. Switch the order of exercises often, have your child train you by leading the exercises, and substitute exercises with whatever comes to mind.
The main point is that your child or children moving on a regular basis, getting stronger every day.
More information on obesity can be found at: