By Sarah Toth
Children are wiggly. Anyone who has spent time in a preschool classroom knows that sitting still is a skill few kids have mastered. But, this is a good thing! Physical activity is essential for children and their well-being. Moving their bodies strengthens their hearts and bones, regulates their blood pressure, and contributes to overall physical health. Exercise also helps strengthen kids’ minds. It improves mood and stimulates brain growth, making kids feel better and learn more readily. Studies show that children who participate in some form of regular physical activity have better problem solving capabilities and have lower levels of cortisol, a stress induced hormone.
While “exercise” may conjure thoughts of monotonous treadmills, unattainable goals, and damp and smelly gyms, physical activity with kids can be fun and pretty easy for everyone! A simple walk down a nature trail can turn into a great adventure for budding explorers or scientists. Get your kids moving with anything from a game of hide and seek to a gentle bike ride. With easy access to many beautiful natural areas and parks in the greater Atlanta area (find some great ideas here), there is no shortage of opportunities to get outside and enjoy the spring.
In addition, here’s an opportunity to get some quality body-moving time for the whole family: OCP’s 7th annual 5K race, Beat the Street for Little Feet, on Saturday, May 3, is quickly approaching! Held in the Oakhurst neighborhood of Decatur, this race is especially family-friendly, and there are several options: a 5K race with a jogging stroller division, a one mile race, and a “tot trot” for the youngest kids. We also hold a post-race celebration and awards ceremony, including a children’s party with activities and music. Nationally known, local artist James Dean draws a special “Pete the Cat” image for our race shirt each year, and this year’s Pete is one of the best yet (all pre-registered runners are guaranteed a race shirt, and the “tot trot” runners each receive a Pete the Cat “medal”). To register for the race, please visit www.ocprace.com. (And if you have an interest in sponsoring our race, please email OCP parent Kimberly Head Amos at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Being active as a family helps kids embrace their need to run, bounce, climb, and play, and it fosters a love for physical activity that children will carry into adulthood. Parents are great examples when it comes to exercise and fitness. So gather your family, embrace your inner child, and get moving!