According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of U.S. children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s. Furthermore, data from 2015 to 2016 shows nearly 1 in 5 school age children and younger people aged 6 to 19 years has obesity.
While the causes of such alarming rates are multifaceted, the rise of technology and its extreme interest towards it is partly to blame. So when it comes to a healthy diet and a regular exercise routine, children may need a little push.
The Familial and Parental Role of Healthy Living
Parents and adult figures are in a unique position to educate children about a healthy lifestyle, along with modeling what a nutritious diet and physical activity entails. And now is the time to take advantage of their abundant energy and talk to them about the lifelong benefits of healthy living.
What's more, the most current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends the following:
• Preschool-aged children (ages 3 through 5 years) should be physically active throughout the day to enhance growth and development, in which adult caregivers should encourage active play that includes a variety of activity types.
• Children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily, with the inclusion of aerobic, muscle- and bone-strengthening exercises.
• Like kids, adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. The guidelines further encourage at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should preferably be spread throughout the week rather than tackled all at once.
Despite the core recommendations, every family is different and half the work may be trying to figure out fun and creative ways to fit physical activities into a busy schedule. (But don't worry, we will provide a list of suggestions and how to implement them into your daily routine!)
Nonetheless, it is a good idea to start practicing a healthy lifestyle with them sooner rather than later while children are still at that impressionable young age. Not only will it help you as a guardian regulate weight, increase energy, prevent against chronic diseases, promote and promote mental health, but will also help your children do the same in the short and long-term.
But how do you get started? Give these fun, flexible health and wellness activities for kids a go!
Leisurely, Outdoor Health Activities for Kids
Getting off the couch and spending time outdoors has been shown to elevate mood and increase productivity at all ages. Here are some leisurely, outdoor activities the entire family can enjoy!
1. Take A Family Walk or Bike Ride: Rather than turning on the television, gather the family for a walk or bike ride around the neighborhood.
2. Go to the Park: If you have a family dog, take to a local dog park. you can see if the parks around you are pet-friendly and go someplace that your whole family, including your furry friends, can enjoy.
3. Grow A Garden: Growing a garden helps your children learn about the overall process of food, as it involves the sequence of harvesting, storing, processing, packaging, selling, and consuming food. This heightens food appreciation and the adoptions of more environmentally-friendly food handling techniques.
4. Visit the Farmer's Market: Spend time exploring the farmer's market, allowing kids to pick out and purchase their own produce. When you get home, give it a try as a healthy snack or prepare a meal together.
5. Create A Scavenger Hunt: Especially with some preparation, a scavenger hunt can be a fun outdoor game for both kids and adults to enjoy. This will keep everyone entertained for hours!
6. Go to the Zoo: Exploring all the animals in the zoo will be so entertaining, no one will notice the number of steps taken!
7. Volunteer: As a family, volunteer to walk dogs, pick up trash, or any other opportunities in your local area. Not only does this get them active, but shows the importance of giving back to the community.
Moderate- to High-Stamina Health Activities
These healthy activities for kids are perfect for a hot, summer afternoon or a fun weekend adventure.
8. Hit the Trails: Hiking is a fun way to get into nature while building stamina and leg strength as you intertwine through the hilly trails.
9. Go Swimming: Whether at the pool or beach, swimming is a great way to increase endurance and strength while being gentle in the joints. Enroll in swim lessons and enjoy a day at the pool.
10. Tackle Yard Work: While yard work and chores might not seem like the most fun health activities for kid, they will love being able to help you with something and feel accomplished when completed. This also solidifies a basic foundation of the importance of hard work.
11. Team Them Your Favorite Sport: Teach your child your favorite sport, whether it be football, hockey, soccer, basketball, etc. They will enjoy learning about something that you are interested in, while likewise being a great way to bond with one another.
12. Play A Game of Kickball: Kickball is a fun outdoor game for kids and adults, so round up the gang and head to the field. Divvy up in teams and play until you just can't anymore.
13. Go for A Run: If you are a runner, go for a run with your kids. If you have a dog, you could bring them too. Running is a great way to stay in shape and let go of stress for all ages (and furry friends)!
14. Play Tag: Because what kid doesn't love tag? They will have so many fun running around and tagging others that they will not recognize how much exercise they are accruing!
Indoor Health and Wellness Activities for Kids
Sometimes the weather does not always cooperate with those fun, outdoor plans… But having a list of indoor healthy activities for kids can make any rainy day an opportunity for health!
15. Set Up Obstacle Courses: In the basement, garage, or any other open space, set up an indoor obstacle course to keep kids entertained for hours.
16. Create A New Dance Routine: Dancing gets the body active and is a fun way to build and express creativity.
17. Take A Trip to the Grocery Store: Tackling the grocery store together not only checks one chore off your "to-do" list, but offers the opportunity for kids to become acclimated to gathering healthy ingredients. Which leads us to the next activity…
18. Cook A Healthy Meal: Following the grocery store tips, cook a healthy meal together! Allowing them to help instills confidence in the kitchen and exposes them to new creations.
19. Encourage Unstructured Activity: While plans offer structure in our day, they are not always necessary. Allow your kids to entertain themselves in how they choose, as this stimulates greater independence and creativity.
20. Join A Recreational Center: Joining a recreational center is a fun way to offer numerous indoor health activities for kids and the whole family.