Children of all ages are more sedentary now than ever before, watching TV and playing video games instead of biking to the playground or playing kickball in the backyard with their pals, is a major cause for concern.
And even schools have stopped emphasizing fitness! In some school districts, physical education has vanished completely because of under-funding.
Kids need regular exercise to build strong bones and muscles. Exercise also helps children sleep well at night and stay alert during the day. All these healthy habits established in childhood help adolescents maintain a healthy weight despite their hormonal changes, rapid growth, and social influences that often lead to overeating. And active children are more likely to become fit adults.
As childhood has become more sedentary, and a lot more fast food is being eaten, children are gaining weight. In the past 30 years, the rate of childhood obesity has more than tripled, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of children with type 2 diabetes, a disease once limited to sedentary, overweight adults.
You do have the power to give your children a lifelong appreciation for activities that strengthen their bodies and their minds.
Follow These Tips To Keep Your Kids Active:
#1 Set Good Examples
If you want an active child, be active yourself. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and park the car further away from stores. Never make exercise seem like a punishment or a chore.
Find fun activities that the whole family can do together, such as:
- Nature hikes
- Bike riding
- Walks with the family dog
- Playing Tag
- Hide & Seek
If mom and dad exercise, it’s a very powerful message for a child to exercise. In addition to getting active, exercising together gives you good family time. The goal is to get kids moving, whatever the activity.
#2 Limit Screen Time
There are a lot of reasons why children are less active today, but the biggest culprit is TV, followed closely by video games and computers. These activities encourage a sedentary lifestyle by limiting movement for long periods of time.
Watching television is directly related to childhood obesity. Children who watch more than five hours of television a day are eight times more likely to be obese than children who watch less than two hours of television a day.
A surefire way to increase your children’s activity levels is to limit the number of hours they’re allowed screen time each day. When children are bored they find things to do. This is the perfect time for them to get their thinking caps on and get creative.
#3 Promote Activity, Not Exercise
Of course, sports and other organised activities are a great way to keep your kids moving, however, kids don’t have to be in sports or take dance classes to be active. Every kid is wired differently. We all have certain strengths and characteristics that permit us to do certain things better than others. Many non-competitive activities are available for a child who isn’t interested in organised athletics.
The key is to find things that your child likes to do. For instance, if your child is artistically inclined, go on a nature hike to collect leaves and rocks that your child can use to make a collage. If your child likes to climb, head for the nearest jungle gym or climbing wall. If your child likes to read, walk or bike to the local library for a book.
#4 Start Them Young
Remember your energetic toddler? Direct that energy into a lifelong love of physical activity. By incorporating physical activity into our children’s lives at an early age, you are setting the foundation for good fitness habits in the years to come. So, have your little one show you how bunnies hop, eagles fly, or dogs wag their tails.
Here Are Some Other Ideas To Help Keep Kids Interested:
Play games your primary school kid loves, like tag, cops and robbers, Simon says, and red light, green light. If you don’t remember the rules for these games, make up your own or walk to your local library and check out a book on games.
“The idea here is to avoid staying home and researching online, but rather encourage muscle movement.”
- Let your toddlers and preschoolers see how much fun you can have while being active. Don’t just run with them. Run like a gorilla. Walk like a spider. Hop like a bunny. Stretch like a cat.
- Plan your family vacations around physical activities by doing fun things like hiking, biking, skiing, snorkeling, swimming, or camping. Take along a ball or Frisbee to sneak in some activity at rest stops.
- Make chores a family affair. Who can pull the most weeds out of the vegetable garden? Who can collect the most litter in the neighbourhood? If you are lucky enough to have snowy Winters where you are, have your kids help shovel the snow off the driveway and use that excess snow to build a huge snow fort.
- Vary the activities. Let each child take a turn choosing the activity of the day or week. Batting cages, bowling, and restaurant play areas are all great. What counts is that you’re doing something active as a family.
Hopefully, these ideas will help with keeping your little ones active. If there are any ideas you’d like to add that I might have missed, please do feel free the share in the comments, and I will gladly add them to the list.