Sunday, October 7, 2012

Benefits of a Healthy Diet and Exercise – Teach Kids Good Habits

How to Teach Kids Benefits of Healthy Lifestyle

Teaching children about the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle can create a foundation on which they can rely throughout their lives. Many of us know first-hand how difficult it can be to break unhealthy lifestyle habits, but even modest changes may reap great benefits in one's health. Starting good habits early may help kids to enjoy better health throughout their lives.

I have a wonderful opportunity to teach second graders about diet and exercise through a grant program, and I have been impressed with how receptive the kids are about the program. They often become quite engaged when I not only mention about how they can become healthy but also how they can encourage family members.

Reinforcing information they already know can be a great place to start, and I like to challenge them so that they might learn new words or ideas. When speaking about the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise, I like to present information that will get them thinking and moving for a few minutes before we start exercising.

I made five small posters, each with one word on it and show one poster at a time, asking the children whether they think a healthy lifestyle will make the item go up or down. I have the kids to sit down if they think it will decrease or to stand up if they think it will increase and then give feedback about each one.

Below are the words and some feedback for each:

How does a healthy lifestyle change your energy level?
What does a healthy lifestyle do to your energy level?

Many of the kids that I teach already recognize that regular exercise and a healthy diet may help to increase your energy level! I like to mention that sometimes people may feel tired after doing a really tough workout but that once a person develops those healthy habits on a regular basis, they may enjoy a higher energy level overall. I also mention that a healthy lifestyle may help to improve one's mood as well.

How does a healthy lifestyle change your blood sugar?
What does a healthy lifestyle do to your glucose level?

When I ask the kids this one, many of them sort of hover or simply sit down because they aren't really sure what glucose is. This can be a great teaching moment! Many children and adults have diabetes, and when I ask if any of them know of someone who has diabetes, lots of them raise their hands and often understand the phrase "blood sugar" rather than a medical term like glucose. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help blood sugar levels decrease, and I also like to mention that those with diabetes may find they don't have to take as much insulin if they adopt those healthy lifestyle changes because their blood sugar levels may go down.

How does a healthy diet and exercise change your strength?
What does a healthy lifestyle do to your strength?

It is great to watch the kids jump up when I show this poster! Nearly every second grader that I teach recognizes that a healthy diet and regular exercise can increase one's strength. I like to have a little fun with this one and have the kids show me their muscles and have them pose in all sorts of ways to show their already massive strength! This is a good place to also mention that bones can become stronger as a result of healthy lifestyle choices.

Can a healthy diet and regular exercise change your weight?
What does a healthy lifestyle do to your weight?

I'll admit this one is a little tricky because a healthy lifestyle may help one to achieve a healthier weight. Technically, one's weight may decrease or increase, depending on one's health. Many of the children have seen television shows in which people lose large amounts of weight. I like to mention that proper diet and exercise can help people to achieve a healthy weight and that their doctors can help them to determine healthy goals for weight management.

What does diet and exercise do to cholesterol?
What does a healthy lifestyle do to your cholesterol level?

I like to mention that this is a really tough question before I show the word. This may be another instance where the kids guess, and I love to tell them that everyone is correct on this one while explaining that we have two main types of cholesterol: good and bad. A healthy diet may help decrease the bad cholesterol while regular exercise may help increase the good cholesterol. I also like to ask the kids how much exercise they should get each day (1 hour) before we begin the exercise component of the program!

Find more of Katrena's fitness ideas and articles at Fit Tips 4 Life.

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