These days only half of children and teens regularly exercise. With the online media and Internet games, there are plenty of reasons why a child would prefer to sit in front of a screen all day. Rather than creating a generation of coach potatoes, it’s time to do something about it. Childhood obesity is a common problem of the 21st century with more than 15% of school children obese of overweight. Keeping your child physically active and eating the right foods is a great way to avoid becoming part of this statistic. Children need about 60 minutes of physical activity each day so turn the TV off, put the console down and get everybody involved in a healthy lifestyle.
Find a Fun Activity
The first step is to find out what your child actually enjoys doing. The more they enjoy the activity, the more they’ll want to participate. This can be anything from long adventures in the park or kicking the ball around the field. Chose age appropriate activities to avoid frustration or boredom. Getting everyone involved will make this a great way of spending quality time together.
Make time for Exercise
Sometimes finding the time for exercise can be hard. Whether your own schedule means you’re busy with work or your child’s calendar is filled with homework and music lessons, it’s important to be aware of the need for physical activity. If you can’t get the recommended 60 minutes in one go, spread the minutes throughout the day. 10 minutes walking to school, 30 minutes bike ride around town or a simple game of tag will soon add up. If you have a pet dog, take the children along for the walk and encourage everyone to run around and play games.
Be a role model
If your child regularly sees you enjoying sports and activity it will encourage them to participate and enjoy it too. Get involved and help your child learn new sports and skills. Going to the park as a family to run around and play games or a simple brisk walk in the mornings or after dinner will reduce the time spent in front of the TV whilst giving you some quality time together.
It doesn’t help to just tell your kids not to play video games, you need to give them plenty of opportunity to get up and active. Buy them treats that encourage movement such as a skipping rope or rollerblades, or simply take them across to the playground to spend time with their friends. After school activities such as martial arts, swimming or gymnastics are great ways to get kids up and learning new skills.
Don’t Over Do It
It’s important to teach your child how to listen to their body. Physical activity and exercise shouldn’t cause any pain. If you’re child is already overweight, they may be limited in the amount of exercise they can participate in and for how long. Start of with walking from A to B to get your child’s energy levels up and then slowly increase more strenuous exercises. Not every child will be a super athlete or even enjoy sports but it’s important to know your child’s limits, as well as their interests.
Here are a few additional resources to help your kids understand the importance of an active Childhood.
- http://www.healthykids.nsw.gov.au/ – Find a range of factsheets on tips for how you can make small changes to your kids daily routine to encourage them to be more active.
- http://www.blossomshealthcare.co.uk/information – A number of resources including a factsheet about Physical Exercise.
- http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ – Specific tips for 5- 11 year olds on becoming more active.
- http://kidshealth.org/ – Specific tips for Teens.
With such a wealth of resources available online, it’s easy to find something that will work for your kids!