As parents, it is our responsibility to keep our kids healthy. Physical activity helps them build strong muscles and bones, and also gives them a really good night’s sleep. Researchers say children need compulsory physical exercises not only to prevent obesity but also to improve their cognitive skills and academic performance.
When we talk about physical activity for young children we don’t mean signing them up for the gym. It is all about being active and moving around instead of sitting in one place.
Childhood obesity is a problem prevalent in the United States and about one third of all kids are overweight. We all know that’s mainly because of fast food, lack of physical activity and all those food additives we all dread. Obesity is a serious health issue because it can cause asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and also something we might tend to ignore—it can make children lose their self-confidence. And this is something they won’t forgive us for.
Improving eating habits and increasing physical activity both play a vital role in preventing obesity. What’s more—active kids tend to be more vigilant and successful later in life. One of our most important responsibilities as parents, is to boost their healthy habits while they are still young. This is something every parent can relate to. Here are some strategies that will encourage your kids to be physically active and lead a healthy life.
Talk to Your Little Ones — explain why physical activity is important for their growth and how it actually helps them to keep at a healthy weight and prevent so many health problems. A simple session like that would inspire them.
Schedule Time to Play — “All work and no play” makes your children more anxious and depressed. Don’t book your kid’s life with extracurricular activities. Studies say the need for unscheduled play-time is tragically overlooked. Fix up a schedule of at least one hour of active play on a daily basis.
Choose the Appropriate Activity — choosing the right activity for your child’s age is crucial. Cycling, swimming, and walking around are all appropriate for a 6 or a 7 year old. Otherwise you’re risking to make him/her bored or frustrated.
Give them Freedom — this is something definitely on the table for us all. Parents are usually afraid of sending their children outside to play. Actually, playing outdoor games will effectively improve them intellectually, socially, spiritually and physically. Take them to the local park or beach and give them some freedom.
Motivate them and Get Involved — find out your kid’s favorite sports. Your motivation and support makes them even more enthusiastic. Doing something fun together is the best idea. Go for roller skating, rollerblading, ice skating, or skateboarding. Kids love these activities. If the school is nearby, don’t take the bus. Or dance with them in the living room to their favorite tunes or simply organize a family contest like who can get the highest scores in the jump rope.
Allow Time with Friends — it is a fact that children love their friends. They are more active when playing with someone they know than compared to playing alone. If not daily, allow them to spend time with them on weekends (get to know their friends and show them what a cool mom or dad you are).
Weekend Beach Activities — Remember! Weekends are for your family only! Plan a visit to the beach! Fly a kite, float on pool noodles, build a moat, spell words in the sand with seashells and stones, play Frisbee, build a sand volcano, make a seaweed bracelet!
Limit Sedentary Activities — we all know what a coach potato is. Don’t allow your kids to spend hours watching TV or sitting in front of their computers, playing video games. Instead, organize a family limbo tournament—a tightly twisted towel stretched out can serve as a Limbo pole.
Avoid Lifts and Escalators — three words: simple physical activity. If you’re visiting one of those gigantic multi-floor shopping malls with your kids, opt for the stairs. Few things are as powerful as some quick walking up and down the stairs. Plus, it’s a way to protect kids from getting a foot or a hand stuck in the escalator.
Encourage Gardening – enjoying what nature has to offer is both entertaining and useful for your little ones. Get different types of flowering plants and create a garden around your house involving your children. Pulling weeds, planting bulbs and trimming rose bushes is associated with improved physical health and keeps us energetic at the same time.
Family Dance Contests – instead of just sitting in front of the TV, watching all those dance competitions, organize a fancy family contest with your kids and their friends at home. You’ll be the judge — see who busts the best moves and try to motivate them with a small gift.
Exercise Together – build in some time each day to exercise together (the best de-stressor there is!). Schedule some workouts but remember you need to show your kids exercise shouldn’t be treated as something to do only when it’s convenient. Go for a nice family walk right before bedtime. Evening walks are perfect for younger kids as they need light-intensity exercise. Think outside the box and ask your kids to be in charge of the family exercise schedule for some time. It will boost their creativity.
Activities in School – school-based programs promote physically active lifestyle. The management can encourage it and most important of all: make sports accessible and attractive for all youth. Annual sports festivals are the best idea that can encourage students to be involved.
Set a Good Example – we are our children’s role models. In fact, if you are physically active, they are sure to follow your footsteps. Teach your children about the importance of healthy eating habits, regular exercise, and also show them your commitment by maintaining a regular workout schedule. Involve them in your exercise routine.
Whatever methods you choose, your ultimate goal is to bring a positive and lasting impact on your loved one’s health and well-being.