At Westchester Health, 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 firmly believe that the health and well-being of your child to a large degree involves fitness and nutrition.
Physical activity should be a regular part of your child’s day
To help your child get more exercise and become more physically fit, suggest activities that he/she enjoys and can do regularly, advises Rachel Menaged, MD, a pediatrician in our Westchester Health Pediatrics group, writes in her recent blog. Fitting exercise into a daily routine doesn’t have to be a chore—almost anything that gets your son or daughter moving is beneficial.
Here are some exercise suggestions:
- Walking the dog
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 help build healthy kids
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.
The USDA’s 5 recommended food groups and typical servings
- Vegetables: 3-5 servings per day.
- Fruits: 2-4 servings per day. Suggestions: ½ cup of sliced fruit or a medium-sized whole fruit, like an apple, banana or pear.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Dairy: 2-3 servings per day of 1 cup of low-fat milk or yogurt or 1½ ounces of cheese
Concerned that your child may not be eating well or 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 pediatricians. He/she will provide guidance and advice on how to make healthy changes in your child’s life. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.
To read Dr. Menaged’s blog in full, click here.