In-Tune and Toned-Up with Physical Activity
“The Family that Plays Together Stays in Tune Together,”1 blasts a recent news headline that refers to family members’ collective passion for musical activity. Similarly, it’s no secret that family members’ collective enthusiasm for physical activity can achieve staying in-tune together, as well.
Physical activity, in various forms and degrees, is good for all of us. The [wikipop]American Academy of Pediatrics[/wikipop] (AAP) reports that participating in fitness initiatives increases both strength and physical functioning, while simultaneously enhancing overall well-being. Properly designed sports and adapted physical activity programs for our children aim to promote cardiovascular endurance, as well as flexibility and balance – and what fun results! In addition, opportunities promoting physical activity engagement can increase independent thinking and movement, improve coping abilities, and teach competition and teamwork values. For example, featured in the recent, January 25th Parade news supplement,2 [wikipop]Special Olympians[/wikipop] describe their joy-filled participation in sports activities. Involvement in the events builds their self-esteem, strengthens their self-perceived physical competence, and improves peer acceptance. Accompanying and supporting the athletes, their families (arguably greatest fans) gain much from the sports participation, as well. They devote committed time and organizational talents, and a myriad of related contributions to the games. In turn, their benefits typically include good-natured camaraderie and informal peer support of one another experienced through family-shared events participation. And, confirmed by research, families who engage in physical activities themselves encourage the similar participation of their youngsters who are diagnosed with varying degrees of physical, neurological, and/or health-related limitations. No criticism is rendered the participant’s tests and trials of physical opportunities and challenges. As the motto of Special Olympics proclaims, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
The designing of formal, structured, physical activity events by properly trained athletic directors involves careful planning and ability-appropriate, modified exercise programs for individualized physical education pursuits. Such professionals are knowledgeable about potential risk of injury and fatigue, and administer to children pre-participation evaluations that routinely combine input from physicians, physical and occupational therapists, parents, teachers, and others. Particular considerations include proper movement and achievable skills, as well as hydration, clothing stipulations, and the use of specialized equipment. Fear of hurt to our children dissipates, as the AAP assures that with the proper guidance, risks of participation-related injuries for children with varied types and degrees of limitations is no greater than that for conventional activity participants.
Realizing that the resulting benefits of physical activity include being toned-up – individually and, as families participating in activities together – there presently exists an urgent need for fitness and activity programs that provide opportunities accommodating an estimated nearly 20% of U.S. children and adolescents who are in many respects restricted due to chronic conditions and characteristics that limit usual and boundless fitness participation. Only through increased provisions of specialized, physical activity programs can children improve cardiorespiratory health, enhance muscular endurance, and eradicate any existence of lethargy, overweightness, or obesity. Activity – it’s contagious. Make plans to include it in your daily and weekly routines.
- Melissa Merli, “The Family that Plays Together Stays in Tune Together,” News-Gazette.com, 05/11/2008 [↩]
- E.M. Swift, “Now The Games Are For All Of Us,” Parade.com, 01/25/2009 [↩]
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