Simple Ways to Encourage Your Kids to Get Active
From controlling weight to boosting self-confidence, there is no denying physical activity is not only valuable, but critical, during childhood. But in such a technology-driven society, how can we as a whole be motivating kids to be active? Let these fitness tips for kids and ways to encourage physical activity be the answer we need with childhood obesity on the rise.
Importance of Physical Activity
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "regular practice of physical activity assists young people to develop healthy musculoskeletal tissues (i.e. bones, muscles and joints); develop a healthy cardiovascular system (i.e. heart and lungs); develop neuromuscular awareness (i.e. coordination and movement control); and maintain a healthy body weight." The accumulation of physical developments can successively lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. But the benefits are not only physical, but transpire into psychological advantages by lessening feelings of depression and anxiety. Correspondingly, regular physical activity has shown to foster social development of by providing opportunities for self-expression and boosting self-confidence and self-esteem.
Fitness Tips for Kids
Start exploring activities as soon as possible, as motivating kids to be active should start at an early age. The activities children pursue should be age-appropriate and can even include activities in the youngest generation. For instance, toddlers aged two and younger can be exposed to crawling games and push and pull toys. Not only do they reap the benefits of physical activity, but inspires their interest and involvement of leading a continuous, active lifestyle with each passing birthday.
Since different activities have different benefits, it is important to balance physical activity patterns to optimize their potential. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends to choose activities that build cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, bone strength, balance, and flexibility for overall health.
According to the American Heart Association, children aged two and older should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activities on a daily basis. But practicing moderation is much more than a principle in diet and is expanded to exercise recommendations; it is appropriate to start with smaller amounts of physical activity and gradually increase duration, frequency and intensity over time as needed. You can also split exercise up throughout the day, including 10 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes after dinner. Ultimately, doing some exercise is more beneficial than doing none at all!
Reduce Screen Time
When it comes to the underlying causes of childhood obesity, screen time is a well-known culprit and and a report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) found children under 18 represent 1 in 3 Internet users worldwide! But not only does screen time impede on quality time spent being active, but increases the quantity of food children eat. In fact, the average child eats 600 calories a day in front of the television! Nonetheless, kids will naturally start to play and become more active in absence of television, phones, and other electronic devices so limit total screen time to less than two hours each day.
Lead by Example
Implement the concept of "Monkey see, monkey do," as children tend to mirror their surroundings and follow by example. Being a good role model not only assists your child with weight loss, but enriches a healthier you, too. Parents should take an active role in promoting and encouraging regular physical activity.
Have Fun Together
Offering fun activities is perhaps one of the most meaningful ways for motivating kids to be active. And if looking for inspiration, read on!
15 Simple Ways to Get Kids Active
1. Start a garden as a family. Not only is gardening a fun way to get kids active, but helps cultivate and flourish a positive relationship with nourishing foods.
2. Offer your child a bit of your childhood by playing the classics, including hopscotch and duck, duck, goose.
3. In addition to playing outside, there are numerous ways to encourage physical activity indoors. For instance, have a handstand competition, create an obstacle course, and even have a dance party!
4. Play recreational sports, including soccer, basketball, and volleyball and encourage their participation in school.
5. Purchase and play leisurely games in your own backyard, including bocce ball and Frisbee.
6. Live close to your child’s school? Walk them there in the mornings.
7. Take a bike ride together after dinner.
8. A scavenger hunt can be a fun outdoor game for the whole family to enjoy! From finding a bird’s nest to jumping into a body of water, the ideas can be as simple or complex as desired.
9. Walk around and explore museums and zoos in your local area.
10. Instead of simply letting the dog outside, walk them around the neighborhood as a family.
11. Don’t have a dog of your own? Volunteer to walk them at the local humane society!
12. Introduce the concept of Namaste with yoga for kids.
13. Jump around on a trampoline or jump rope to elevate the heart rate and strengthen the legs.
14. Though chores may not be the most fun way to get active, teaching them how to clean the cat’s little box or vacuum is valuable in exposing kids to day-to-day responsibilities and the value of a dollar.