Have you ever noticed how children tend to be naturally active? Spontaneously on the move? You’ve seen them, at the end of a conversation with you, running off and doing cartwheels. Or breaking out in a dance to some music in their own head. Or jumping off of the couch, doing an unimposed round of jumping jacks. This behavior reflects the fact that kids’ exercise patterns are different from adults.
Whereas adults will work out for an hour, then call it a day, according to Dr. Memhet Oz, “the natural tendency of a child — the way their metabolism and bone structure and everything else is designed — is to be active all day long. They’ll get up and do somersaults and wrestle for five minutes and then they’ll stop and lie around for an hour. Then they’ll do the same thing over again.” This explains why, when we try to make children operate within a grown-up model of exercise of, say, hiking for an hour, they might get restless, bored, and, overall, not be into it. Their natural tendency leads them to play chasing games like tag, where there are bursts of exertion, followed by periods of rest.
Many schools include physical fitness in their curriculum a couple of times a week. However, many others have cut out PE, due to shrinking budgets. Whatever the case, it’s important to include plenty of healthy movement and exercise in your child’s routine. Instead of getting frustrated by those cartwheels in the living room, know that your kid is just being a kid. Also, get the whole family moving in ways that kids can enjoy–short bike rides, walking short distances instead of driving them, taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Helping your kids stay fit is one of the best ways to protect them from obesity and the long list of diseases that accompany it.