By Diana Giraldo, Reporter
Clovis Roundup Newspaper
As the summer heat starts rising children entertain themselves by watching television or playing with other electronics indoors to beat the heat, but according to Amber Hammons, an assistant professor in the child and family sciences department at Fresno State, it’s important for kids to stay physically active.
“If children are watching a lot of T.V. they aren’t outside exercising so you see a reduction in physical activity just because they are spending that time inside,” she said.
Although getting children active is easier said than done, the recommendation for children 6 to 18 years of age is 60 minutes of vigorous to moderate activity at least three days a week, Hammons said.
Childhood obesity rates in the nation are staggering, with 32 percent of children overweight and 17 percent of children obese. Good life habits like healthy eating and exercise are essential to preventing life threatening diseases that are more common among those who are overweight and obese, Hammons said.
“Obesity is a risk factor for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, insulin resistance and high cholesterol levels,” Hammons said. “More recently we have seen that obesity has caused a rise in the cases of diabetes in children, so the health effects are very serious.”
In addition, daily exercise has other helpful benefits like overall mood enhancement, immune system boosts and a better metabolism.
One way to get children moving is by exposing them to new sports or getting them involved more in a sporting activity they already enjoy.
“In the summers there are sports camps, Saturday sport programs and different types of family activities to get involved in together,” says Hammons. “While they are doing that they are also exposing them to children so it has the big component of physical activity but also the fun of socializing with others.”
Socialization is an important element of the My Gym’s training structure.
My Gym, located in Clovis, is a children‘s training facility that specializes in helping children 6 weeks thru 10 years of age develop physically, cognitively and emotionally, said My Gym Director Kati Catania.
“The kids that come here to the gym seem pretty confident. They are not really shy and they have gotten socially used to different kinds of people, kids and teachers,” Catania said.
The children are taught general life skills in the weekly classes that incorporate music, dance, relays, games, gymnastics, and sports.
“What we are really hoping to promote is an active healthy lifestyle,” Catania said. “The other thing that is really important is to build self-esteem and give them the confidence to be able to have them climb up all the way up the ladder, to try new things and to get yourself back up if you fall down.”
Joanne Valenzuela, a mom who has taken both of her daughters to the gym, said she has watched them both develop during the classes.
Her oldest daughter started attending My Gym at 10 months old and her youngest daughter at 6 weeks old. It was there that Valenzuela’s youngest daughter learned to walk.
“The exercises help her balance and she almost, at that young age, knew how to fall in a way that she wasn’t going to get hurt because she learned those things at My Gym,” Venezuela said.
Starting a healthy active lifestyle at a young age is important in teaching children lifelong skills.
“If they establish and build healthy habits early on as children they are more likely to carry it over into their adolescence and then into adulthood,” Hammons said. “In general we try to encourage kids to be more physically active, to reduce the sedentary lifestyle and to eat more healthy food.”