As a Wellness doctor and family health advisor, I’m not a big fan of sedentary living. Especially when it comes to kids. A pet peeve of mine is the social trend we’ve created that makes it common for kids to spend hour after hour sitting in front of televisions and computers. I know that it’s not all evil! Great, creative things can happen in front of a computer and fabulous learning can happen as a result of several television productions. Nonetheless, one suggestion for reducing the inherent “damage” done by kids parking their booties for too long while watching television, movies, playing video games or sitting at the computer is to give them something different to sit on.
Actually, back up a step. Sitting is bad. Sitting is to your spine like sugar is to your teeth. Our bodies were not designed to thrive or function well sitting for the length of time we do everyday. Avoid synapse xt it as much as you can – have your kids avoid it as much as they can. Tough, when they have to sit all day at school, I know. At least you can make it better for them when they’re home.
Ideally, kids should be out and about, running, playing, skipping, playing sports, riding bikes, exploring… that’s how they develop and advance, naturally. BUT, when they want to ‘chill’ and wind down, try some different things. My kids are young enough that they don’t gripe too much about this one:
I have a rule that when watching a movie (there’s a short list of movies that have been approved by Dr. Mom in our household!), they are not allowed on the furniture, no more than a few minutes anyway. Then they have to change positions &/or location. They can sit or lie down on the floor. They can stand or move around. They just cannot sit on the couch long enough that they could start to grow spuds!
Stagnant bodies of water attract disease. Stagnant human bodies don’t fare much better! If there’s music in the movie, they dance to it. I’ve even been known to pause a movie and have them do 5 minutes of jumping jacks/crazy dancing/yoga, etc. with their loopy mom! I know they think I’m absolutely nuts! Not a big deal… I’d rather have healthy kids than worry about them thinking I’m wacky! (they’re going to think that anyway!)
Another highly recommended idea is to provide child-size exercise balls for them in whatever rooms they hang out in. Sitting on, bouncing on, rolling on a ball is highly beneficial for optimal posture (spinal and muscular development), as well as developing fantastic skills using balance, and most importantly, feeding their brains and nervous systems with tremendous doses of Proprioception!
When the brain receives ample proprioceptive input from the spinal joints in particular, the result is that the brain produces sufficient amounts of critical neurotransmitters, like serotonin (promotes a feeling of well being and balance) and dopamine (promotes the ability to focus, learn new information, recall old information). One of the most important things you can encourage your kids to do is MOVE! This is what actually creates proprioception. Brain food.