Attaining good health and maintaining wellness should begin at a very young age. These can be accomplished by teaching children to develop good habits and to make wise choices. To enjoy good health both now and in the future, children must learn how to exercise, control stress, be responsible for personal cleanliness and reduce the risk of disease.
Fitness and Exercise
- Developing the habit of daily exercise will help children prevent lifelong problems with obesity and heart disease.
- Encourage preschool aged children to emphasize movement in their play. They should practice catching, throwing, rolling, bouncing and kicking a ball. Running, hopping, skipping and jumping are equally important skills to learn.
- Exercise should be fun. Making it fun usually means exercising with parents, siblings or friends. Parents will need to set the example of exercising 4-5 times weekly so that children will develop this important lifelong habit.
- Participation in sports teaches children that teamwork accomplishes goals not possible by individual effort. Children will also benefit from learning sportsmanlike conduct, social skills and improved self-esteem. Other activities, such as music lessons, dance and scouting, have similar benefits. In fact, children who take music lessons at an early age have recently been shown to do better in math and science classes at school.
- Baseball is a good social sport and one that teaches eye-hand coordination, balance and muscle strength.
- Roller skating or ice skating improves balance and coordination, exercises the heart and lungs and improves flexibility. Proper safety equipment should always be used.
- Swimming and running are both excellent forms of exercise. An adult, who is in constant attendance, should always supervise swimming.
- Soccer offers an excellent aerobic workout in addition to the benefits of improved strength, endurance, coordination, weight control and agility.
- Bicycling develops leg muscles, enhances self-confidence and balance and provides a good workout. A helmet should be worn at all times.
- Hiking and backpacking build muscles, cardiovascular fitness and help foster family unity.
- Teach children cleanliness and how to stop the spread of contagious diseases by washing hands frequently, at least four times a day, especially before eating and after using the restroom.
- Regular hand washing with soap and warm water has been shown to reduce the transmission of infectious diseases in the day-care setting. Waterless hand soaps are not as effective as a good scrubbing with soap and water.
- Children should be taught to cover their noses and mouths when sneezing or coughing and not to share straws, drinking glasses or eating utensils when sick.
- Material carrying germs can, also, be transferred through handshaking, kissing or by other means of direct contact.
- A clean environment will reduce the chances of picking up disease around the home. Regular house cleaning and scrubbing of food preparation areas with soapy water will prevent the spread of food-borne illnesses such as Salmonella. Never serve raw eggs or serve meat or chicken that is not fully cooked.