Diabetes-Free Kids by Sheri Colberg-Ochs

A Take-Charge Plan for Preventing and Treating Type-2 Diabetes in Children

By Sheri Colberg-Ochs PHD FACSM

Excerpted from Chapter 5 of Diabetes-Free Kids

NOTE: Excerpts are provided on dLife.com for informational purposes only. The information contained within will not be updated by dLife and may be outdated. Please consult your doctor before acting on anything described here.

Additional Strategies for Motivating Overweight Kids

Overweight and obese children have special concerns about structured exercise routines. In particular, these kids may be acutely aware of their larger body size, making them more self-conscious during such activities or preventing them from wanting to participate at all. If your child fits this profile, it is especially important for you to help him or her find activitiesthat are perceived as enjoyable to have any hope of continued participation. Your child may need to try out a few different activitiesuntil favored ones can be found, but doing so will be well worth the extra effort.

Ideally, structured programs for overweight kids should involve activities that allow them to move their whole bodies over the greatest distance possible to maximize their energy expenditure. However, although walking and jogging fall into this category of activities, most kids will find them either boring or too difficult. You can trick your kids into walking more simply by incorporating it into other activities—like parking farther away than necessary when you take them shopping. Moreover, walking can be the gateway to more vigorous exercise for many overweight youth, which can further increase their overall health bene-fits. As a bonus, self-confidence may improve once they start a walking
program, which may lead them to start including additional physical activities into their lives. Some more popular, but suitable, alternativesamong the younger set include dancing, basketball, skating, and cycling.

Furthermore, the addition of supervised resistance (weight) training can bestow extra health benefits, especially in more mature teens.Such training increases muscle mass, which can enhance both their insulin action and their round-the-clock resting energy expenditure (and, thus, their glycemic control), not to mention their self-esteem and feelings of accomplishment. Measurable increases in strength can actually be attained in as short as one to two weeks (as neural changes occur before gains in muscle size), which may additionally motivate your child to continue moderate weight lifting. Boys, in particular, are more focused on gaining muscle, while girls are usually more interested in weight loss alone; however, girls also benefit from muscular gains, which may lead to greater fat weight loss despite potentially lower body weight losses.

It is further recommended that you build on your child's strong physical attributes. For example, most overweight children are on the top of the growth charts—usually both tall and strong. Consequently, they may be more likely to succeed in sports and activities involving height and strength, such as basketball, football, and field events like shot put and discus. However, they may also be lacking in speed and agility, which will limit their ability to excel in sports requiring these abilities, namely track, soccer, or jumping events.

Extra fat stored under the skin also acts to insulate them and keep them warmer in the pool, which is an advantage in pools heated to 80 degrees or less, as heat losses through the skin in water are usually much greater than they are in air. Also, the water serves to hide their bodies, which may decrease the inhibition that they may feel when their
figures are more plainly seen during other activities.

Although we have touched on different ways to motivate your kids to be more physically active, you may still be at a loss as to how and where to start with your own kids. The most sedentary kids may be the most resistant to trying anything new. Just like when you make the transition to better eating, it will be easier for your family if you ease into being more active gradually. Walking more may be a great way to start, but moderation in all things is appropriate, which means that you need to start out slowly.

For example, you don't want to find yourself in a situation like one I witnessed recently in the Virginia mountains: My family had hiked straight down at least a mile-long footpath through the woods to reach some stunning waterfalls. Near the bottom, I passed a relatively lean parent trying to coax her visibly overweight, prepubescent teenage daughter back up the path and overheard the mother saying in an exasperated tone of voice, "What do you expect me to do? I can't just go get the car and drive down here to pick you up!" That family was literally and figuratively in for an uphill climb on the road to physical fitness.

So, what should you do? Plan big and start small. Try using the strategies already discussed to begin implementing more physical activity into your family's daily lives. If your kids boycott your attempts, then try some of the additional tips given to smooth the transition toward greater physical activity.

Tips for Motivating the Most Sedentary Kids

  • Start with a five-minute rule: Tell your kids they have to be physically active for five minutes; if they want to stop after five, let them (they may not)
  • Insist that your kids routinely get up and move around during TV commercials; progress toward having them walk or even dance during that time
  • Make your kids get up and move around for three to five minutes at the end of every thirty minutes of sedentary activity (even when reading or doing homework)
  • Turn the TV and all electronic devices off for a specified period of time every day, thus limiting the time your kids spend in front of them
  • Remove all TVs from your kids' bedrooms, as having them there promotes even greater physical inactivity
  • Set time limits for all sedentary activities, and use planned physical activities (like bowling or roller skating) to reward your kids' accomplishments
  • Buy your kids toys that promote physical activity (like skates or a bike) instead of toys that promote sitting and inactivity
  • Steer your kids toward doing at least one physically active chore around the house or yard daily, like sweeping, vacuuming, or raking leaves
  • Make up a daily physical activity chart that your youngsters can use to record their time spent being active, and set up a system of noncaloric rewards
  • Do whatever you can to be an active role model; your kids may see you doing something that looks like fun and want to join in

Last Modified Date: August 07, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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