This Saturday is the 19th annual Family Health & Fitness Day, a national health and fitness event for families. Always held on the last Saturday in September, this day is a national holiday dedicated to promote family involvement in physical activity and healthy living.
Family Health & Fitness Day was conceived, in part, as a response to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health. This landmark report made it clear that health benefits can be obtained from moderate physical activity on a regular basis. In addition, the Surgeon General’s Report stated that the majority of Americans, and especially children from 12 to 21, are not exercising nearly enough.
The obesity rate for children with disabilities in the United States is 38% higher than for children without disabilities. Unfortunately, multiple barriers may stand in the way of fitness for children with disabilities. Many parents are apprehensive to encourage their children to become involved because of the range of obstacles they may encounter. However, children with disabilities want to have friends, enjoy activities, have a break from parents, and be included like everyone else.
Though the exact amount of exercise will vary depending on your child’s abilities, it is recommended that most children get 60 minutes of activity a day. By engaging your child in an active lifestyle you help him or her to burn calories to promote a healthy weight, improve sleep patterns and self-esteem, and decrease repetitive behaviors that may be caused by stress.
Exercise is a daily routine for Ryan and me. It’s not new; we began when he was seven with running around the block. I knew he would never be able to play on a team, so I introduced activities that he could do on his own early on. Today, he is so programmed to exercise before going to work that he wakes me up at 5:30 to say, “It’s time to go to LECOM!” And if I’m not feeling well, he is genuinely disappointed that he can’t go. Once at the gym, he heads to a treadmill and runs for an hour, paying no attention to what I’m doing. It’s a great break for him, and me.
Here are some fun ideas that I’ve tried to get active this weekend:
- Compete in an Obstacle Course in Your Backyard
- Go Apple Picking or Walk Through a Pumpkin Patch
- Organize an Outdoor Scavenger Hunt
- Bike, Hike, or Jog on Presque Isle Trails – it’s beautiful in the fall!
What are some of your favorite activities to do to promote family health and fitness? I would love to hear from you!