The percentage of U.S. children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the causes of such alarming rates are multifaceted, the rise of technology and its extreme interest towards it is partly to blame.
In fact, the President's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition (PCSFN) reports children are spending more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen and nearly one-third of high school students play video or computer games for three or more hours on an average school day.
What's more, only one in three children are physically active each day. But motivating kids to be active can help the youngest generation lead healthier, longer lives.
How Much Exercise Does Your Child Need?
The most current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 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.
Establishing and following the guidelines can help your children regulate weight, increase energy, prevent against chronic diseases, promote and promote mental health.
Motivating Kids to Be Active
Identifying and learning how to encourage a child to participate in an activity is a vital component to their success both in the short and long-term. Here are tips to prosper active children in the now and years to come:
1. Speak with Your Child's Doctor
Your child's doctor can be an authoritative figure to inspire regular physical activity, while likewise advising safe and age-appropriate activities.
2. Start Small
While there are guidelines established for physical activity, it truly is okay and even recommended to start small in regards to building an active lifestyle.
Small ways to naturally integrate physical activity may include taking a few minutes each day to jump rope or walk after dinner. As your child starts to stamina and strength, increase the number of minutes and intensities of the activity.
Ultimately, small goals can transpire into large outcomes and any movement is better than going without!
3. Stand as A Role Model
Exercising as a parent and caregiver is essential for motivating kids to be active, as they often model behaviors. So act as a role model by scheduling exercise and keeping active for your child to see.
Also beyond exercise, model healthy behaviors associated to a balanced diet, proper hydration, adequate sleep, and stress-management.
4. Get Active as A Family
Getting active as a family not only helps build a healthy lifestyle, but creates lasting memories together.
Walking the dog, hiking and packing a healthy picnic, riding bikes around the neighborhood, and going to the zoo are just a few fun ways to spark active children and other family members.
5. Include Friends
While spending time as a family is important, kids also enjoy when friends can tag along and join in on the fun.
Allow your child to invite friends to the park, community swimming pool, or simply come over for some unstructured play. You can also invite the entire family for a friendly game of kickball!
6. Look Outside the Playing Field
Physical activity is much more than an organized sport, so look outside the playing fields of soccer, baseball, etc. There are numerous fun ways to be active, including by rock climbing, hiking, and swimming.
House and yard work are also a way to increase activity. While they might not be viewed as fun, kids will love being able to help you with something and feel accomplished when completed.
7. Guide Their Interests, Yet Allow Autonomy
Guide your child's interests, yet allow autonomy for them to choose activities they enjoy.
For instance, while we can guide them to try new sports, pushing them to play basketball when soccer is more enjoyable can tarnish their interest altogether.
But also encourage them to explore various activities they enjoy, including dance, gymnastics, and yoga.
8. Always Be Encouraging
Especially if kids are not naturally athletic, they may be self-conscious and be discouraged from activity based on the fear of being embarrassed or teased.
Always be encouraging when your child tries new things, along when they perfected that free throw shot or cartwheel they have been working so hard on.
9. Place the Focus On Fun
Being active should not feel like a chore or stand as a punishment. And if it does, kids (and adults) are unlikely to carryout.
Placing the focus on fun activity can inspire your child to keep active not only at a young age, but for years to come.
10. Set Screen Time Parameters
With screen time taking hours of your child's time, start setting parameters of when your child can watch television, play games, etc.
This screen time reduction tool kit can also help you keep encourage learning and healthy physical and social development.
11. Establish A Schedule and Routine
Establishing a routine and exercise time helps both kids and adults to stay on track, so offer structure and set times, days, and places designated for fitness.
Also be flexible with a schedule and improvise as needed. For instance, if planning an outdoor hike but rain comes in the forecast, create an obstacle course, scavenger hunt, dance routine, and other activities that can be completed indoors.
When the weather does not permit outdoor fun, you can also visit a recreational center to participate in a wide variety of activities.
12. Make the Environment Conducive to Physical Activity
When opportunities are available, kids are more apt to take them. That being said, encourage exercise by creative an environment conducive to physical activity.
Offering outdoor playground equipment, a basketball hoop, soccer balls, and other gear your child might enjoy can help motivate them to turn off their electronics and partake in an active hobby.