7 Ways to Encourage Your Kids to Be More Active
We all know that being physically active is important to our health, but with our jammed pack schedules it can be hard to make the time. The same challenges face our kids. They have school, homework, extracurricular activities and then the temptations of television and video and computer games, and if they have their own phone or iPod or iPad, they have easy access to not only movies, and games, but also to the internet and social media. On average kids today spend more than 30 hours of screen time each week. That is a lot. Children need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day and many kids are not getting it.
Here are some ways to encourage your kids to be more active:
Be a good role model
While a lot of parents live by the motto, “Do as I say, not as I do,” as parents we make a better impact on our kids by modeling the healthy behaviors we want them to do. Make sure you are making time to fit exercise in your daily or at least weekly schedule and let your kids see you doing it. National guidelines recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity in a week so try to do something active for at least 30 minutes five days a week. If you are active, most likely your kids will be active too.
Encourage them to join sports or other organized physical activities
Encourage your kids to try out different sports like soccer, basketball or baseball or even the track team. If they are not sports-minded, maybe they will enjoy dance, cheerleading or yoga. Doing something they love with like-minded kids will help your child stay engaged and want to sustain their activity level. They will also love the social aspects of the team experience as well.
Be creative about finding free physical activity
Organized activities can get expensive with all the equipment and fees, so it might not always be feasible, but that doesn’t mean your children can’t get the right amount of physical activity. And then again sometimes it is more finding the time that is the issue. If your work schedule doesn’t allow you to get junior to a regular baseball practices and games, then you need to be more creative about squeezing in more flexible physical activity for your kids.
Here are some suggestions:
- Spend a couple of hours at your local park and playground with your kids.
- On nice weather days that you are busy doing things around the house, encourage your kids to play outside with their siblings or neighbors. Or go out with them and have a catch or play tag. Or ride bikes together.
- On rainy days, let your child play active games in the house. A little noise mayhem won’t hurt you. Let them put on a show for you or chase you around with a water gun.
- Do yoga or exercise together in the house as a family. Maybe you all get up earlier and spend an hour doing yoga or a workout or maybe it is simply a dance party before bed.
- Reap double the benefits of getting your kids to help around the house and in the yard, Vacuuming and dusting or raking the leaves not only helps you out, but can be a good workout for them.
Any physical activity is better than none so just keep your kids moving any way you can.
Keep electronic temptations at a minimum
Most households today have multiple televisions in the house and a combination of electronics including video game systems and cell phones so fighting the temptation even for ourselves can be difficult. However, it is important to set electronic-free time for you and your children where you do fun, active things together. Avoid allowing your children to have a television or laptop in their room and keep tabs on their electronic time. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should have no more than one to two hours of total screen time each day.
Help your child find his/her passion
Your child will more likely maintain an activity if they really are passionate about it so help them find what they really love to do. Whether it is baseball or dance or hiking, any physical activity is good. Remember that they don’t have to be the best as their chosen activity, what is more important is that they enjoy doing it.
Emphasize safety in all they do
All physical activity poses some risks, but by making sure the activity is developmentally and age-appropriate and making sure your child has the right equipment and a safe environment to play in, you are doing everything you can to protect them. Make sure they don’t overdo any exercise or physical activity and talk to the pediatrician about any precautions you should take and any signs or symptoms you should watch out for. Remember that the benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risk of injury.
Make exercise a priority
Life today is busier than ever and it can be hard to make time for it. And you won’t if you don’t see it as a priority. If it is important to you that you and your children remain active, then you will set aside time in your schedule for it. Go ahead and pull out the planner and get it on your calendar.
Overall, the most important thing to remember is that both a balanced diet and regular exercise is essential for a healthy body and mind. One without the other isn’t going to be as effective. Teach your children that what they eat and how much they move their bodies are both necessary and the sooner they start the better. Keep in mind though that while practicing healthy habits from an early age is recommended, it will never be too late to start. So no matter what the age of your kids now, get them moving today.