Is your homeschooler physically fit? According to U.S. government statistics, the percentage of young people who are not fit has doubled since 1980. Spending too much time in sedentary activities such as video game, television, telephone, and computer use, children are developing unhealthy lifestyles that lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. The American Academy of Pediatrics states the average child watches 3 hours of television per day. Add to that the screen time spent in front of other media, and its little wonder children are not getting enough exercise to stay healthy.

So how much and what type of exercise is necessary to keep your child healthy and strong? The American Heart Association recommends that children and teenagers have at least 60 minutes of medium to strenuous physical activity per day. The outstanding supplemental resource for exercising in the Personal Care Series from Alpha Omega Publications® provides helpful exercise techniques, ideas, and information for healthy activities to do with your child. In addition, the physical activity you choose for your child should be fun and include three important elements for a developing and maintaining a healthy body - endurance, strength, and flexibility.

Endurance " Building endurance in your homeschooler's physical activity requires at least 30 minutes or more of daily aerobic exercise. This form of exercise is more strenuous than others and improves the performance of the cardiovascular system by maintaining an elevated heart rate and breathing rate while exercising. The following aerobic activities provide the vigorous exercise necessary to your child's overall health:

BicyclingSoccerSwimmingTennis
Roller bladingBasketballIce skatingWalk/Jog/Running

Strength " Strength training can increase muscle mass and it make easier for your child to keep a healthy weight since muscle burns more calories than fat. However, because bones and muscles are still forming in young children, doctors recommend waiting until the teen years for formal weight lifting training. While your child is younger, simple strength training exercises can be included in daily physical activity, such as:

Sit upsCrunchesLeg liftsPush-ups
Knee bendsHeel raisesPull-upsLunges

Flexibility " Stretching helps prevent muscles and joints from getting strained or sprained and makes the body more flexible so your child can relax and move more easily. Before stretching, make sure your child's muscles are warmed up from at least five minutes of easy exercise, and then gently stretch, not bounce, the muscles into their full range of motion with exercises such as:

Calf stretchesThigh stretchesKnee high stretchesBack stretches

Don't let inactivity cause health problems for your children now or in the future. Establish a schedule and lesson plan for physical activity that gets everyone off the couch and moving. Plus, take the lead as a homeschooling parent and set a good example of physical fitness yourself. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, pack the car with sport's gear to play at a moment's notice, or park further away from building entrances so you'll have to walk. You'll sleep better, handle stress better, maintain a better self-image, and have more fun homeschooling when your family enjoys the many benefits of regular exercise.