Early Start for Good Health
Mary Kay Jones' 4-year-old daughter Audrey takes gymnastics classes.
"She's been doing jungle gym-type stuff since she was a year [old]," Jones said. "To me, being physically active should just be a part of life that the children are doing all the time."
Jones has developed a reputation with her children's friends because of that philosophy.
"It's interesting. The kids always want to get out their little Gameboys or 'Can I bring over my Playstation?'" Jones explained. "And they just know, at my house that doesn't happen. Yet they all have a great time playing together."
MU Fitness Specialist Steve Ball added, "We want them to get several hours of activity a day and you really can't be too active as a kid."
The activity pyramid mimics the food pyramid by showing how nutrition and exercise work together. The balance, flexibility and strength that gymnastics require are activities the pyramid recommends for kids 2-3 times each week. The pyramid also recommends active and recreational activities 3-5 times each week, with limited inactivity.
The base is the easiest to work on because it only requires everyday activities such as playing outdoors with the family dog.
"If you look at the activities that are on the pyramid, you wouldn't really think of them as being exercises necessarily," Ball explained. "It's just a part of kids' lives, actually playing and having fun."
And, Jones plans to keep those activities, and the fun, going for her daughter.
"She likes it," Jones said. "She goes, you know, 'Mom, are we going to go exercise today?'"