Can You Break The “CODE”?

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The following is an article written by:
Gary J. Stevens, 7th Degree Black Belt
Master Stevens is a high ranking Black Belt with over 40 years of TaeKwonDo training and teaching experience.


C hildren
O besity
D iet
E xercise

More children are now overweight and less physically fit than ever before. Concerned parents and pediatricians know that both proper nutrition and exercise are necessary for the child to lose excessive weight and to achieve and maintain a level of good health.

Dieting to lose weight, especially among children, doesn’t usually work. When suggested by parents, it sends a demoralizing message to the children that their parents do not accept them as they are. Restricting certain types of food doesn’t appear to have much of an effect on long-term weight control either. Forcing a child to diet runs the risk of having an adverse effect on the child’s body image and self-respect.

When a parent models healthful eating habits, it usually has a very positive effect on the child’s development. Set a good example. Don’t smoke, don’t over-eat, don’t drink alcohol, and certainly don’t do drugs. Do snack on plenty of fruit and vegetables instead of chocolate and ice cream. Do drink plenty of water and juices instead of soda. Watch less television! While watching television, children burn less calories than they do sitting still.

Exercise, done on a consistent basis, is an integral part of the solution to the obesity problem. But not all exercise programs are equal. There are many sports that do not require much movement. The more calories an exercise program burns, the greater the effect on the child’s well being.

For example, even though I love baseball, it’s not much of a calorie burner. Unless you are actively running around the bases, you are either sitting on the bench and waiting for your turn or in the outfield getting too much exposure to the sun. Bowling is another fun activity and it is very good for building up the muscles in one arm. But again, unless you are throwing the ball, you’re probably just sitting and eating a junk food snack or drinking a fattening fluid, other than water.

One of the best exercise programs for children and their parents, that is readily available in most areas, is the martial arts. Among some of the other calorie burning activities are Dance, Soccer, Basketball, Aerobics, Track and Field, and Gymnastics.

Martial Arts training is a high calorie burning activity that is fun to do and gives the child some valuable real life skills. During the training, the child gets an excellent cardio-vascular work-out and all the positive effects of aerobics, stretching, running, jumping, and tumbling. Certainly the martial arts have a reputation for increasing a child’s sense of self-worth and self-confidence. It also teaches the child respect for the rules, for each other, and most importantly respect for one’s self. Once a child’s self-image is raised, there tends to be a positive snowball effect on the other health issues, including proper nutrition. Only this time it is self motivated not dictated.

Remember, if you are overweight and out of shape, you are sending a very loud and a very clear message to your child and that is “Do as I say not as I do”. So start with you and set a good example for your child to follow. Start today and don’t buy the foods you should not be eating and join an exercise program with, or even without, your child.

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