Physical activity is good for you, period. It’s also very good for your kids, and it’s important! Physical activity promotes growth and development, and you should strongly encourage kids as young as three years old to engage in exercise that helps them move their bodies, grow strong bones and muscles, build endurance and maintain a healthy weight. Similar to adulthood, a healthy diet is a very important part of being healthy, but being physically active is just as important and necessary. There is a great amount of evidence to show that moderate exercise can help to boost a child’s critical thinking skills, grade point average and standardized test scores. Did you know that many children and teenagers spend more than seven hours a day in front a screen? That could be the TV, a computer, phone, tablet or other electronic device used for entertainment. Falling into this bad habit of sitting in front of a screen can lead to long term health problems like obesity, diabetes and more. If you are having a difficult time successfully encouraging your kids to be active, please check out these next few tips on how to get your kids to exercise.
- Think about what it takes for you to get up and exercise – you have to be motivated right? Whether it’s because you’re aiming for weight loss, need some time to focus on yourself or you exercise by taking part in a sport that you consider to be a hobby you choose to exercise because of something that motivates you. When it comes to encouraging physical activity for your kids you have to find out what motivates them. The best way to figure this out is to:
- Choose age appropriate activities – if your child can’t keep up or understand what you are asking them to do, they might end up bored or frustrated.
- Provide plenty of opportunities for you kids to be active – sign them up for classes and sports activities, take them to the playground or the park and provide equipment, toys and games to keep them physical and entertained.
- Focus on fun – kids will not take part in something that they do not like, so try to make exercise a game or an activity that they will enjoy. When children have fun doing an activity, they will want more of it! Some fun activities that kids enjoy include riding a bicycle, swimming, chasing, kicking or throwing a ball, jumping on a trampoline, playing chase, climbing on a playground and anything else that helps them improve their abilities and makes them feel recognized and accomplished.
- Talk to your child’s pediatrician, they can help you discuss the need for physical activity with your child and suggest some fun sports or activities that will be best.
- Aim to provide your kids with both free play as well as physical activity with instruction. The best way to do this is at school with physical education – this will teach children to play, follow directions, be part of a team and get some energy out. On the days that school is out try to block off some time during the day that allows your kids to do something similar to what they would do in school.
- Even though it may sound silly, you can get your kids to exercise while they assist you with common household chores. Outdoor chores like pulling weeds, raking leaves, watering plants or sweeping gets their little bodies moving while spending some time outdoors instead of sitting on the couch in front of the TV.
- There’s no better way to make physical activity part of your kids’ lifestyle than by being a good role model. If your children see that you take care of your body and health while enjoying physical activity they are more likely to model your behavior and take part in exercise without being bribed into it.
- Take the time to play with your kids – not only is spending time together priceless, but it’ll help you bond, make memories, uncover new hobbies and learn new sports together.
- As your kids grow older, they are more likely to be overscheduled by homework, extracurricular activities and other planned events. It’s important for you to make time for exercise, whether it’s going for a family walk, bike ride or ensuring that sports are a part of the weekly schedule.
Remember that exercise combined with a balanced diet creates a strong foundation for a healthy and active life. One of the most important things you can do for your kids is encourage healthy habits early on in life that they will carry on into adulthood. For more tips on health, weight loss and lifestyle information please follow our blog.