How Food and Fitness Help Create A Healthy Kid

At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we’re dedicated to the health and well-being of your child, which to a large degree involves fitness and nutrition. We often get questions from our parents concerning their children’s exercise level or eating habits, and we’d like to share some of our knowledge here.

We’d also like to encourage you to come to us with any concerns you might have about your child’s weight, physical activity, diet and approach to certain foods (overindulgence or avoidance). Over the years, we’ve helped hundreds of parents raise their children and we’re ready to help you with yours, with the latest information, advice and guidance.

Make physical activity a regular part of your child’s day

Rachel Managed_01 fix WEB72

Rachel Managed, MD, FAAP

To help your child get more exercise and become more physically fit, suggest activities that he/she enjoys and can do regularly. Fitting activity into a daily routine doesn’t have to be a chore — even a brisk 10 minute walk to and from the bus stop gets your son or daughter moving. Remember, every little bit adds up, and doing something is a great start…and better than doing nothing.

Some exercise suggestions for your child to consider:

  • Joining a kid’s exercise class at your local gym
  • Walking
  • Biking
  • Jogging
  • Hiking
  • Rollerblading
  • Swimming
  • Basketball/football/soccer/baseball/track/gymnastics
  • Walking the dog
  • Dancing
  • Zumba class

Activity levels per age

Preschoolers: Preschoolers need play and exercise to develop important motor skills, such as kicking or throwing a ball, playing tag or follow the leader, hopping on one foot, riding a tricycle or bike with training wheels, freeze dancing or running obstacle courses.

School-age: With elementary and middle school kids spending more time on sedentary pursuits like watching TV and playing computer games, the challenge for parents is to help them find physical activities they enjoy and feel successful doing. These can range from traditional sports like baseball and basketball to martial arts, biking, hiking and just playing outside.

Teenagers: Teens have many choices when it comes to being active, from school sports to after-school classes. It’s important to remember that physical activity must be planned and often has to be sandwiched between various responsibilities and commitments.

Healthy foods, healthy kids

Just as important a role as physical fitness plays in your child’s health, so do the foods he/she eats. Nutrition is the building block for a healthy child, and the more you know, the bmy plateetter you can provide smart, healthful choices. For guidance, we have an on-staff nutritionist at Westchester Health Pediatrics who can advise you and your child about food, calories and nutrition.

Your child should consume a variety of foods from the five major food groups that make up the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Choose My Plate” guidelines. Each food group supplies important nutrients, vitamins and minerals for your child’s growth and overall health.

5 recommended food groups and typical servings

  1. Vegetables: 3-5 servings per day.
  2. Fruits: 2-4 servings per day. Suggestions: ½ cup of sliced fruit or a medium-sized whole fruit, like an apple, banana or pear.
  3. Grains: 6-11 servings per day. Each serving should equal 1 slice of bread, ½ cup of rice or pasta or 1 ounce of cereal.
  4. Protein: 2-3 servings of 2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish per day. (Vegetarian alternatives: ½ cup of cooked dry beans, one egg or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter for each ounce of lean meat.)
  5. Dairy: 2-3 servings per day of 1 cup of low-fat milk or yogurt or 1½ ounces of cheese

Worried that your child may not be eating well and not exercising enough? Come see us.

If you’re concerned about your child’s diet, eating habits and/or fitness level, or if you have other questions relating to his/her health and well-being, please come in and see one of our Westchester Health Pediatrics pediatricians. Together, we’ll figure out if there are areas where healthy changes could be made in your child’s life, and we’ll provide guidance and advice on how to go about doing that. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

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By Rachel E. Menaged, MD, FAAP, Pediatric Physician with Westchester Health Pediatrics, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners

by WHA-Admin