American Council on Exercise by American Council on Exercise
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Exercise deficit disorder (EDD) sounds serious and, well, it is. The term is used to describe a condition characterized by reduced levels of regular activity (less than 60 minutes a day) that are inadequate for long-term health and wellness.

This concept of EDD cannot be measured in the lab or even diagnosed by any concrete measures other than pure observation and a child’s “play history.” What can be measured are the effects that EDD will have on a child’s health, such as high blood pressure, elevated BMI, diabetes, etc. Therefore, it is vital for parents, teachers and healthcare providers to ask the questions and become aware of a child’s regular activity routine.

Not only is physical activity a critical part of a child’s heath and wellness, it also acts as a preventative treatment for future illness and disease that are the result of inactivity. We must treat EDD as a serious condition.

Pediatricians are taking the right steps in assessing and diagnosing a child with EDD, especially with a great awareness for the need. It’s then up to the parents, teachers and coaches to take action and treat this condition.

One of the most visual and fun ways to help kids become more aware of their activity is to track it during the week by using an activity calendar. Adults have a work calendar and kids should have an activity calendar. For adults, it feels good when the to-do list gets completed at the end of the day or week. Likewise, it can give a sense of accomplishment to see his or her activity completed at the end of the day or week. You could even offer a small reward for completing seven days of activity each week, such as a special dinner or movie rental.

I suggest putting the calendar on the refrigerator so your kids can track their activities and everyone can see it.

HOW TO:

1. Use a blank sheet of paper and create a calendar for the month with daily blocks that are big enough to write in.

2. In each daily block, have two rows: one for activity and the other for the total minutes of time spent performing that activity.

3. Each day, record what activity was done either at school, afterschool, at home or with a friend. Be sure to write down the activity and the amount of time spent doing that activity.

4. Tally up the total minutes at the end of each week and set a goal for 420 minutes per week.

5. At the top of the calendar, list a few small prizes for reaching the weekly goal of 420 minutes. You could also list a few bigger prizes for reaching the goal every week for one entire month.

6. Small prizes could include a special dinner, movie rental, friend sleepover or an allowance bonus, for example. Bigger prizes could include a trip to the movie theater, new shoes, favorite dessert or going out for dinner.

Taking the time to create an activity calendar and use it shows your kids that making time to be active is a necessity in our daily lives. Plus, the calendar adds a visual reminder of the importance of being active, and rewarding active behavior with fun prizes allows you to meet goals and spend more time together with your family.

Start today and daily activity will soon become your family’s lifestyle and the lack of it no longer a disorder.

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