I am a people watcher. I especially enjoy observing them at shopping malls and airport terminals. I realize that folks have always come in various shapes and sizes, but over the last couple years, I have noticed a rather alarming trend in children: many of them are actually obese. I’ve recently read too that many of these children are being diagnosed with diabetes. The sad part of all this, in my opinion, is that it is preventable!
There are a number of factors that are fostering obesity in our children.
• One huge reason is that they spend many hours a week watching TV, playing video games, using the Internet and talking or texting on cell phones.
• Many schools have shortened or eliminated recess.
• In certain neighborhoods, especially in the big cities, parents are reluctant to let their children play outdoors because they don’t believe it’s safe.
• Play time is losing out to other activities, lessons, and classes-everything from karate to piano lessons, to Girl Scouts or ballet. Expectations are being placed on children to excel in all kinds of extracurricular activities, and they still have to do their school homework assignments.
All of this results in diminished unstructured play time. Children need time to play with other children to get social interaction. Socially inept young people are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression and attention-deficit disorder in addition to obesity. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that unstructured play fosters innovation and creative thinking. Let’s allow our kids to be kids. Allow them to relax, laugh and play together for their health.
After saying all that, let me offer a specific solution: ping pong! Ping pong is a game that is fun for the whole family. It can be played indoors or outdoors. You can get serious about it or simply play for fun, no matter what the weather is. Table tennis is an aerobic exercise, so it is a good physical activity. You’ll find that your energy level will increase and your feeling of exhaustion will be reduced. If the electricity goes out, are your children bored? Boredom will vanish with ping pong! Table tennis will also foster healthy, friendly competition. I believe it will improve mental health as the blood gets flowing too. Why not start today to improve your health and the health of your children?