Kids these days are spending too much time sitting still, and it’s becoming a major healthcare risk. American children 8 years old and above spend an average of 6.5 hours a day engaging with media technologies including watching TV, using the computer and playing video games. Studies have shown that the more TV kids watch, the more likely they are to be overweight.
Increasing physical activity improves cardiovascular fitness, helps prevent obesity, promotes a healthy lifestyle, boosts self-esteem and confidence and reduces stress. You don’t need fancy equipment or a membership to a gym, there are many ways to get your family moving.
There are many ways to motivate children to engage in more active, healthy lifestyles. As with many cases, the earlier you introduce activity to your children, the more likely they are to accept it as a lifelong habit.
1. Choose Age Appropriate Activities
For many parents, especially those with children of different ages, finding activities for all family members to enjoy can be challenging. The interests of a toddler are far different than those of a preschooler. A preschool age child has different interests and abilities than a child in elementary, middle, or high school. Activities that are not age appropriate can become frustrating for children, either because they are too difficult or boring, and lose their engagement in the process.
2. Provide Various Opportunities To Participate
The ever present television and technology distractions mean it is essential to provide equal opportunities to be active. This can be achieved in many ways. Planning family outings, organizing play dates, and creating fun activities are all options. If you must remain indoors, there are many games that simulate sports and dancing. These are great alternatives for days with bad weather or if you are not able to let your children play outside unsupervised.
3. Focus On Fun
One of the reasons many children are discouraged from participating is the focus on competition. Keeping the focus on the family and fun elements of any activity can encourage non athletic children to continue to participate alongside athletic and competitive siblings.
Once your children are motivated to get moving, there are many activities to consider. The following are just a few suggestions to improve your active lifestyle.
-Take active vacations (hiking, swimming, skiing)
– Family walk after dinner
– Play a sport together in the back yard
– Do chores together, raking leaves, cutting grass, shoveling snow, etc.
– Visit attractions which require walking (the zoo, art museum, or state park)
-Include seasonal activities (sledding, jumping in leaves, running through sprinklers)
– Dance and sing along with television programs