The childhood obesity rates are alarming and the attitude of the family can play a fundamental role in reducing these numbers. The first step to accomplishing this is by playing sports together.
Studies show that we have a serious childhood obesity problem. For example, according to the Agencia Española de Consumo, Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición (AECOSAN), 64% of children between the ages of 6 and 9 spend two hours a day doing a sedentary activity such as watching TV, sitting in front a computer screen or playing cellphone games.
I always say that knowledge is power. These rates are worrisome, but not impossible to revert. But in order to change this reality, we must realize as society and as a country that the ball is in our court. How we choose to spend our time is key, and it’s up to us to make positive changes. If we lead an active life, we can afford to sit together as a family to watch a movie once in awhile.
This time of the year, when the weather starts getting warmer, is an ideal time to begin adopting healthy habits such as discovering a new park, going to a sports complex, going to the mountain, to the river or to the beach. We have all the ingredients we need for living an active lifestyle: we live in a privileged country where the weather and the environment are exceptional and are continuosly inviting us to discover them. My suggestion is, now that Holy Week is just around the corner, take the opportunity to do some of the activities we have mentioned.
LIFESTYLE HABITS ARE ACQUIRED AT HOME AND BECAUSE OF THIS, A BIG PART OF A CHILD’S ATTITUDE TOWARDS SPORTS WILL DEPEND ON THAT OF THEIR PARENTS
Although it seems too obvious to be true, one learns from what one sees at home. Lifestyle habits are acquired at home and because of this, a big part of a child’s attitude towards sports will depend on that of their parents. Going for a walk as a family, not only improves family ties, but also enhances children’s self-esteem and improves their social skills. While taking part in an outdoor activity, there are no domestic chores that need to be done. All the time is dedicated to doing the activity itself.
Since age 7, my parents enrolled me in basketball academies so I could spent my afternoons playing the sport which I began to love from a young age. We also spent our summers camping and doing sports activities. Among my most cherished childhood memories are those I have of being outdoors with my parents and siblings. With time I learned that those moments also taught me about moral values and the importance of family bonding.
These kinds of activities are the ones we most enjoy doing at Gasol Foundation. We’ve organized several workshops with both family programs (Badalona and Los Angeles) and we have come to understand that the activities that involve parents and children together are the ones that work the best. In fact, days like International Physical Activity Day, on April 6th, are a great opportunity to get families together and to spend an afternoon full of games and amusement for all. We tend to say that “exercising together provides 360 degrees of benefits,” as there’s no social, physical or emotional aspect that is not positively affected by group activities.
Everyone has an important role in the proper development of children. The role of parents is to worry about their future and health, and that of the government is to provide athletic facilities and parks so that families can enjoy together.
We have a great challenge ahead of us: the childhood obesity rates urge us to take control of our lives. We need to adjust our lifestyles to the digital era, spend less time with digital devices and dedicate more of our time and attention to others. Families, let’s move!
This article was published on March 19th at El País Semanal Spanish Newspaper – written by Pau Gasol