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According to the National Center for Health Statistics, “…an estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years of age are overweight.” There are many factors that have contributed to this statistic, one of which is lack of exercise.
Most kids complain about having to turn off the T.V. or video games. They’d rather be holding a remote or game controller than a football or jump rope. But getting kids off the couch and into the great outdoors has many health benefits. It helps keep children busy so they are less likely to snack when they aren’t hungry, keeps them active which burns calories, and encourages a healthy lifestyle which benefits them in the future.
The American Heart Association estimates that most kids get 4 to 6 hours of computer, gaming, or T.V. watching a day. Experts recommend less than 1 to 2 hours daily. So how to get the kids up and moving? Here are some suggestions from the AHA:
- Make a list of alternative activities, such as playing sports outside, walking pets, or going on a bike ride. If necessary, write them down and keep the list by the T.V. to remind your child the next time he/she heads for the tube.
- Be active as a family. Play catch, go rollerblading, or plan a relay race. Kids enjoy spending time with parents. This also sends the message that exercise is important.
- Remove the T.V. from the bedrooms and don’t allow your child to watch television during meal times.
- Limit the number of hours they watch T.V. by planning the shows ahead of time. Let your child pick one or two shows and only watch those.
- Don’t use television or video game time as a reward.
- Set a good example. If you sit on the couch or stare at the computer for hours at a time, it sends a mixed message to your child. The best way to change your child’s behavior is to “practice what you preach.”
For more ideas on how you and your family can get active and have fun together, Web MD has even more great suggestions.
The approach to managing a child's allergies is similar to that of an adult, with some important differences regarding medication choices and dosing. In general, there are three ways to treat a child's allergies:
- Avoidance of the allergic triggers
- Use of medications
- Allergy shots (immunotherapy)
Avoidance of Allergic Triggers
Avoidance of the causes of a child's allergy symptoms can often be the best way to prevent symptoms. There is essentially no cost, no medication side effects, and it is essentially a curative approach to the child's allergic problem. Examples of at least partially avoidable allergens include pet dander and dust mites. However, avoidance of allergens is often difficult and not always possible. For example, plant pollens and mold spores are part of the outside air, and short of keeping a child indoors all the time, it is impossible to avoid exposure to these allergens. Once allergy testing reveals the presence of allergic antibodies to various triggers, an allergist may recommend avoidance of these triggers.
Use of Medications
When avoidance measures fail or are not possible, many children will require medications to treat their allergy symptoms. The choice of medication depends on numerous questions to be answered by the parent or child's physician:
- How severe are the child's allergies?
- What are the child's allergy symptoms?
- What medication can the family get (over the counter prescription)?
- What medication will the child take?
- Does he/she need medication daily or intermittently?
- What side effects might the child experience from the medication(s)?
Allergy shots, or immunotherapy, treats allergies by reducing the child’s sensitivity to allergens. Although immunotherapy doesn’t work for everybody and may be only partially effective in some people, it does offer some severe allergy sufferers the chance to eventually reduce or stop using “rescue” medication.
This therapy might work for your child if he/she suffers from severe allergies and cannot avoid the specific things he/she is allergic to. It is most successful when used to treat:
- Those with allergic rhinitis
- Those with asthma
- If it begins early in life or soon after the allergy develops for the first time
Work with your child's doctor to discover what will work best for your family and allow your child an active and joyful life.