Physical Fitness & Self-Esteem

Date:  Oct 06-2006

           In this age of cultural obesity, with optional P.E., and more stagnant entertainment than ever, it is increasingly up to the parents to teach and instill a love for activity and exercise in their children. We can do this by joining our children in fun activities, enrolling them in team sports, and encouraging skill acquisition in sport lessons. We must begin to teach an active lifestyle while our children are young and formidable.
            Several fun family activities include bike riding, roller blading, basketball, ice skating, and, with a growing number of indoor pools, allowing for activity year round, swimming. There are many other great water activities for families, including water skiing, body surfing, attending water parks, and good ‘ol backyard pool barbeques. Southern California is a mecca for water sports, with a pool in many backyards.
            Added to this is the inherent danger of so many available bodies of water, when children cannot swim. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of five in the state of California, and the second leading cause of accidental death for children under 14. It is our responsibility to teach our children to swim. Once done, they will learn to love the water on their own accord. What child does not love water? What child is not fascinated with water?
            There are benefits to many instructed sports, but enrolling in swim lessons not only gives your children a skill that will be used throughout their lives, it is one of the highest calorie burners, after only running/jogging, but without the jarring stress on shins and knees. It’s also way more fun! Although many children can already “swim,” as a child learns the finer points of swimming during lessons, swimming becomes much easier, and s/he is more likely to enjoy it and repeat the activity. Furthermore, it is a lifesaving skill for toddlers and young children, and can be enjoyed for a complete lifetime.
            When we take care of our bodies, we can be proud of what we look like and feel like. Obese children, and adults, carry some shame, guilt, and frustration every day, which can take its toll on other activities, including school work and social relationships. When a child is fit and healthy, they feel good and unencumbered by “bad” emotions that hold them back from doing their best.