Campaigns such as the “Let’s Move” initiative by First Lady Michelle Obama, have brought to light an important topic: there are a resounding number of American children that obtain very limited amounts of daily exercise. However, what many parents may not know is that physical activity is important even for your newborn. Simple activities such as “tummy time”, which involves placing your newborn on his stomach while you are watching him, enables your baby to strengthen muscles in his back, neck, and arms. For instance, allowing your six month old child to bear weight on their legs while you hold her upright will help to strengthen her body so that she becomes balanced and stable when several months later she begins to cruise and then eventually to walk. These simple activities help to improve your child’s motor skills and muscle memory. The earlier these habits are introduced the greater the likelihood your child will develop a strongfoundation for a healthy, active, and prosperous future.
Surveys have shown that almost one in three American children is overweight or obese, and the epidemic has more than tripled over the last thirty years. The alarming rate of obesity in our country can have lasting effects on the health and wellbeing of our children. Obesity in children has been shown to place them at risk for diabetes, liver damage, high cholesterol levels, and even sleep apnea to name a few. Moreover, the emotional benefits of exercise through the release of endorphins are a natural way for children to increase their level of happiness. It is never too early to engage your child in healthy physical activity. Speak with your pediatrician about helpful tips to keep your child active at every age.