Fitness is a mixture of staying physically active and eating a variety of foods to help keep your heart, mind and body balanced. Most people choose a fit life because they want to feel great about themselves, because when you feel good it shows on the outside — great vibes all around!
Benefits of Exercising
Physical activity can reduce stress and help you feel content. Brain chemicals, called serotonin are released during exercise, and they improve your overall mindset. Melissa Gomez, 7, says, “I like to ride my bike on trails. My dad takes me to the park and I ride my bike and he walks. I go a lot with my dad since my friends don’t live around here.”
Working out with a friend helps keep you motivated to have an active lifestyle. Being on a team helps create a tight bond with friends. For example, Angelina Diaz, 27, says, “I like to come to the park with both my aunt and my three daughters. I like watching them have fun.”
Her daughter, Mya, 3, jumps from one end of the hill to the next. “I would like to see my daughters live an active lifestyle. I know they look up to me. I do play soccer. I met some of my best friends on my team. So, as they get older I will encourage them to take up soccer like I am,” Diaz says.
Mya screams out, “Swing!” and proceeds to run from the hill top to the swing at the playground. Diaz says that though her aunt and other family members are overweight, she does her best to limit fast food and encourage more time outside so that her children remain consistently active.
In a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011-2012, it found that Hispanic obesity (being overweight) was slightly higher than any other group at a percent of 22.4% that set off the epidemic into adulthood. Having an active lifestyle at a young age helps decrease chances of obesity into adulthood. The benefits of physical exercise include the prevention of cardiovascular disease and obesity, as well as improving overall health, being more energetic, and being more confident.
Jenna Duenez, 8, says, “I play handball at school every day.” Her mother is quick to say that it isn’t only about being active, but the types of food consumed.
“It’s also a matter of what chemicals are in our foods. We live a no meat, no dairy diet and find that my daughter is growing with these eating habits just fine,” Duenez’ mother explains.
Duenez says, “I like coming to the park with my brother and mom. We like to walk around and play on the playground.”
Eating healthy means having a balanced diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables. Even though Duenez does not eat meat or dairy products, like milk and cheese, you can lead a healthy lifestyle by reducing the amount of junk food, like chips, coke, fast food, etc., in your diet.
Melissa Gomez, 7, says, ““I don’t drink soda’ cause it rots your teeth…I drink lots of water… it helps me stay cool.”
Finding the Motivation to Exercise
Though overweight children have a greater risk of social and psychological problems, such as discrimination and poor self esteem, Kimberly Avalos, 13, and Ana Espinoza, 14, are the best of friends with the same journey. Avalos says, “I used to be a little thicker, well chubby. I was always so depressed.”
Espinoza adds, “Me too! I really wanted to feel better about myself. I was hoping to join the dance team by this year, so last summer Kimberly and me started running at the school park. Then we got into doing yoga to help stay flexible, and,well….”
“Now we’re both on the dance team,” Avalos finishes.
Avalos explains, “I get why we run in gym class. I get that it helps our self-esteem. It’s helped mine. When I see other people in gym who don’t try, Ana and I like to be positive and tell them, “You can do it. Hustle! Hustle! Hustle!”
“We mainly try to say encouraging positive words because we both know how it was to be chubby.”
Having a positive support group, like your best friend, can be the motivation you need to go start exercising. A little “sì, se puede” from a friend can make a 15 minute walk around the park seem like 1 minute!
Ana adds, “Staying active starts off slow.
“There is a lot of pressure to look good from artists like Becky G and Jennifer Lopez, I like to tell myself that I do this to feel better about myself, to be a better person and be body powerful,” Espinoza adds.
Physical education can encourage a fit body and mind. It helps fuel the mind and pumps the heart to alleviate the stress and prepare students to do their best in school.
You too can take small steps in achieving a fit lifestyle. Encourage family and friends to ride bikes to the park or walk around town to find a new location to talk to talk to other kids your age.