YMCA Healthy Living Magazine, powered by n4 food and health Spring 2017 - Page 19

ACTIVE BODIES BUILDS STRONG KIDS Explore the program that’s helping children get active and develop healthy habits for life! ost of us know that children are supposed to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. And one hour spent being active sounds like a pretty easy goal, doesn’t it?  M From a young age, children are generally fit and active, with toddlers and preschoolers spending as much as six hours per day engaged in physical activity. This level of activity drops considerably when children enter school and it’s easy to see why. As they get older, demands for their time increases, making it challenging to get an hour of exercise in per day. While some children achieve their exercise quota through sport, non-sporty kids are often left with few options. Active Bodies is a YMCA program that’s trying to change this. With the help of teachers, this innovative program is engaging school children in physical activity outside of interschool sport; kids who aren’t participating in sport can even have a say in the activities they’ll enjoy during the six-week program. These include personal training type activities, self-defense classes, and dance-based exercise that are concentrated on non-competitive fitness options. Program director, Paula Butcher, said the Active Kids program aims to get children moving and strengthen their connection to activities that will improve their health and wellbeing. ‘The program allows children to focus on their own abilities, leaving them feeling strong and confident. Being fit and active is key to good health in kids.’ With less than one-third of school-aged children getting their required 60-minutes of physical activity, Paula and the team at Carlton Baths knew they could help. Not only did the kids learn exercises such as lunges, squats and burpees, one student correctly held a plank for more than 16 minutes! ‘We saw an opportunity in our area to provide an easy option for schools who are looking to provide an alternative fitness option to kids not participating in sports,’ Paula said. There was a resoundingly positive response from the children who took part in the program, with hockey and self-defense classes being the most popular activities. ‘I liked the personal training stuff because it showed me how easy it is to keep healthy,’ said Ellen, one of the participants in the program. The team at Carlton Baths are looking forward to delivering similar programs in schools which, in turn, will help to achieve permanent healthy changes in the lives of many children. SPRING 2017 YMCA HEALTHY LIVING MAGAZINE 19