Healthy Tips | Articles & News

Dressing for Play

One of the leading factors in childhood obesity is a lack of physical activity. Plainly put, our kids are sitting on their butts for too long, too often. And that's a behavior that starts at a young age. But carefully choosing what kids wear each day can help lead them to better health.

At the Eastside Preschool in Salt Lake City, the Dinosaur Class gets outside play time several times a day. The teachers here believe that kids are meant to run and jump and play and so they provide a safe place for them to burn off the "wiggles" and re-focus for the next activity.

“We want them to, to learn what their bodies are capable of and really get some good exercise in - running and chasing and just really want them to be physically active throughout the day,” says Veronica Nelson, owner of Eastside Preschool.

But according to a recent study, millions of American children are not able to fully participate in, or enjoy planned activities at their preschool or daycare because their parents are not dressing them in the right kind of clothes.

Brett McIff, Physical Activity Coordinator for the state’s obesity prevention program, says parents need to think about what their child's need are when preparing for the day ahead, and need to accept that kids like - and need - to get dirty now and then.

“Our kids are not beautiful little dolls to sit on a chair and look pretty in a classroom,” he says. “They are there to learn, they are there to play, they are there to learn how to interact with their friends. If we make them look beautiful, often times we take away some opportunities for their participation.”

Nelson also says that parents often forget to make sure their child has a warm, well-fitting coat with easy-to-use zippers or buttons. She also says skip the strings on jackets and hoodies - they can be a strangulation hazard. And most of all, get your child a pair of sturdy, comfortable play shoes.

“If we have activities planned where children are not wearing proper walking shoes and we're going on a field trip . . . we've all worn ill-fitting shoes,” she says. “It's painful for them.”

Nelson says slip-on shoes often fall off during play time, and jelly shoes and flip flops are just plain dangerous.

“It's very dangerous when their toes are exposed, when they are pedaling the bicycle, they can catch their toenails and can actually rip their toenails off of their feet while their playing on the bikes.”

McIff says save the flop-flops for the beach or swimming pool, and keep your eyes on the weather. He suggests planning your child's wardrobe according to what the weather will be in four, six, or even 10 hours ahead.

“We're doing very well at helping our kids become successful academically. We need to make sure they are becoming fully well-rounded individuals, and being active, to make sure they get all the opportunities they need.”

McIff says that kids need a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day for good health. Include these ideas into your schedule.

Incorporate physical activity while visiting our State Parks.

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