Junior couch potatoes beware!
Kenneth H. Cooper, M.D., the Father of Aerobics, is at it again.
But this time he's after children.
Cooper's first book, Aerobics, revolutionized exercise
for adults. In his 11th book, Kid Fitness: A Complete Shape-Up
Program from Birth Through High School (Bantam), Cooper gives
practical advice to get kids moving.
His concern about kids' health is well-founded. Consider these
- Nearly one-third of all children in the United States are
- Forty percent of boys and 70 percent of girls can do only one
- Half of all girls and one-third of all boys between 6 and 17
cannot run a mile in less than 10 minutes.
- The average cholesterol level is 165 for kids; the recommended
level is 140.
- An overwhelming 98 percent of kids have at least one
heart-disease risk factor (high blood pressure, elevated
cholesterol, obesity or poor heart and lung stamina).
WHAT YOU CAN DO
So, why should you care? Don't you have enough to do just teaching
your kids God's Word?
But the Bible says our bodies are God's temple. Examine what your
actions teach kids about "temple maintenance." Then apply these
ideas to make your ministry more well-rounded:
*Get kids moving. Kids are sedentary enough at home and
at school. Design lessons to keep kids active. For example, if
you're teaching about Noah's ark, have kids make a "lifesize" ark
out of newsprint and pretend to be the animals boarding the
*Serve healthy snacks. The real culprit in kids' diets is
fat, not sugar. Avoid serving foods that are high in fat, such as
chips, ice cream, peanut butter or cheese. Substitute these snacks
with fresh and dried fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grain crackers
and low-fat cookies.
*Educate parents. Encourage parents to investigate how
active their kids really are during the day. Only one state --
Illinois -- requires daily gym for children. Nationwide, only 36
percent of school children in grades 5 through 12 take daily gym
*Involve families. Organize a quarterly family Olympics
day. Vary the sporting events from real sports to wacky sports,
such as a family amoeba race (where each family runs a course with
a rope binding family members together).
*Be creative. The Church on Brady in Los Angeles has
limited space. During the summer, the children met in a nearby
park. Athletes in the church taught kids about gymnastics,
wrestling, volleyball and softball. Kids then participated in
coordination exercises. The 10-week program used sports to teach
kids how God is their strength and the importance of cooperation
and not giving up.
Children's minister Janice Sakuma remembers: "We had a really good
turnout. And we had kids in the park who wanted to come in and fit
in our group so they were invited."
So get your kids jumping for Jesus! They'll love it even though
they may not realize how good it is for them.
GAMES TO GROW ON
Use these age-appropriate tips from Dr. Cooper to get your kids
*Under 6 years-Kids are active enough at this age. Just provide
outlets for all their energy, such as walks, climbing on playground
equipment and free play.
*6 to 12 years-Kids this age are developing sedentary TV-viewing
lifestyles. Get them charged with activities such as kickball,
swimming, roller-skating or chase.
Dr. Cooper, in a Health magazine interview, warns: "Any activity
that requires repetitive jumping, falling or high-intensity
training [gymnastics, football or weight-lifting] could affect a
child's physical development by putting stress on the growth
plates, the area where bones grow at the joints. That's less of a
problem after age 13, when a child has gone through most of his or
her growth spurts."
Copyright© Group Publishing, Inc. / Children's Ministry