Glenda Wentworth Family & Consumer Science Extension Agent Eagle County
Being physically active is essential for young children’s development. Physical activity strengthens muscles, but did you know it is also important for brain development? Young children who participate in 60 minutes a day of being physically active tend to maintain a healthy weight and develop strong bones and muscles. Play in the form of physical activity helps improve young children’s balance and coordination. Keeping young children active also helps prevent or reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Being physically active also improves our mood.
Playing isn’t just for children, adults can benefit too! Incorporating physical activity into your day provides physical, mental and social value. Engaging in active play helps young children learn healthy habits for life. Encourage your preschooler to play actively several times every day. The good news is that the 60 minutes doesn’t have to happen all at once. It can be in short bursts throughout the day. Setting specific activity times throughout the day or week provides you and your child with a consistent schedule which is easier to keep.
Tips for Success:
Young children need daily opportunities to use their large muscles, including running, jumping, galloping, skipping, and hopping to develop those large muscle skills. Adults participating with their children promote being physically active. Some play activities to do inside during cold weather include: acting out a story, dancing to music, playing games such as Duck-Duck-goose, hide and seek or follow the leader. Outdoor play activities are endless such as family walks, playing catch, taking a nature hike, kicking a ball or playing tag. Just remember to focus on fun, not the performance of the child. Adults and young children win if they are moving, having fun and being active daily.
It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that screen time, TV time or using mobile devices should be limited to less than 2 hours per day. Set a rule that no one in the family (including adults) can spend longer than 2 hours per day watching TV, playing video games, using tablets or computers for games or social media (except for school work or work). Discuss what time of day is the best time for screen time and what is appropriate for a young child. Talk about the benefits of removing TV and screens from bedrooms and only having them in family areas. Instead of screen time, spend time together walking, hiking, playing a sport or other activities or dancing to some music. Avoid having the TV on during mealtimes. This should be a time for families to visit about their day. Lead by example, be a role model and limit your own inactivity. Manage the time you spend on your mobile devices as well. Your young children will learn that this is part of a healthy life if they see you doing it.
For more information on Play: Put a Little Activity into Your Day, check out the Colorado State University website: http://www.liveeatplay.colostate.edu/
Recipe for Success:
Designed with kids in mind, this recipe puts a new spin on snack time. Try different vegetables or dried fruit for a different looking “butterfly”.
- 3 celery (stalks)
- 12 twist pretzels (large, 3 ring)
- 6 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons raisins
- Wash hands and cooking area.
- Clean celery with vegetable brush under cool running water.
- Cut celery in half cross wise.
- Fill center of each celery stick with one tablespoon of peanut butter. This is the body of the butterfly.
- Add two pretzels to form the butterfly’s wings.
- Use extra pretzel pieces for antenna and raisins for decoration.
Texas Cooperative Extension, The Texas A&M University System, Expanded Nutrition Program
Chicken Apple Salad Sandwich
- 1/4 pound cooked, shredded chicken
- 1 cup chopped celery (one stalk)
- 1/2 cup chopped apple (one apple)
- 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 package raisins (small box, 1.5 ounces)
- 8 slices whole wheat bread
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Combine all ingredients except for bread together in a bowl.
- Create 4 sandwiches on whole wheat bread.