We all know the importance of physical activity and the positive effects that regular exercise and physical activity can render on both mind and body. In a world of long hours of school, school work, extra-curricular activities, television, video games, distractions from phone, movies, internet and social media, the difficulties of maintaining an active lifestyle is daunting for both adults and the kids.
But parents must encourage their children to exercise regularly. Parents must ensure that their children don’t become overweight or obese.
Why should kids be physically active?
- Kids should be physically active so that they can always stay fit and healthy.
- Not being active can lead to becoming overweight.
- Physical activities can help in coping with stress.
- They can remain more focused.
Physical activity and exercise will help your kid to maintain the appropriate weight. It will also help them to prevent various diseases. In the United States, it is reported that around one out of every three children is either obese or overweight. These overweight teens or kids have a greater chance of becoming obese adults with a wide number of health problems in their future.
Ways to Encourage Your kid to be Physically Active
Health conditions like chronic diseases and cardiovascular diseases as well as mental and psychological disorders are a greater threat for unhealthy kids and adults. Pediatricians suggest that engaging in natural physical activities such as running, jumping, or even skipping every day is important for kids who are under the age of 6.
How to encourage kids to be active physically
Kids above the age of 6 need to engage in intense exercises for at least 1 hour per day; so that their heart rate elevates. In a fast-paced world, it is difficult for parents to ensure that their kids get enough physical activity.
Kids in the earlier days had the opportunity and time to freely roam around their neighborhoods with their friends but those are now in the past. However there various ways in which parents can encourage their kids to be physically active such as
Limit screen time temptations
Nowadays most households have multiple screens including laptops, televisions, phones, video games, PlayStation, etc., and such temptations are even harder to resist for kids. Try to carve out some free time from your schedule when both you and your children can indulge in fun, entertaining yet active things together. Such activities should not include any electronics.
Try to keep your children from having electronic gadgets in their rooms. Keep an eye on the time that they spend on electronic devices. Pediatricians suggest that children should only be allowed one or two hours of screen time per day.
Active screen time
If it is difficult for you to keep your children away from screens or if it is difficult for them to play outside for some reason, find innovative ways to make the screen time an active session for their physical health. You can find interactive video games for them where they can play tennis or baseball. You can use intensive dance videos or active video games which will make for a physically active yet entertaining screen time session.
Make exercising a priority of the whole family
When parents invite everyone in the family to participate in physical activities, exercising soon develops into a healthy habit for most of the kids. It becomes a part of their routine. There are many adventurous activities in which the whole family can participate. You can go on outdoor adventures as a family or join a swimming club; your whole family may even go to the park where the kids can play. The possibilities for such activities are endless.
Focus on entertainment and fun
Kids always like to have an entertaining and fun time. If you can make exercising fun or if you can turn it into an entertaining session for them to enjoy then they are more likely to exercise every day. Talk to your kids and understand what kind of activities excites them.
It can be going to the park, walking during trips to amusement parks or even roaming around zoos. You can even blast the music on and have a dance party with your kids. As long as your kid of panting slightly with elevated heart rate after that activity, you can count that in.
Use competition as a motivation
Most kids display a competitive attitude. When they are pitted against the adults, they have a greater motivation to work harder to prove themselves. Challenge them to outrun you or make it a contest to see who can run more laps around the house or who can do more jumping Jacks.
Such a comparative attitude not only enhances physical health but also encourages them to be determined and resilient. Whenever you plan such challenges, keep a small gift for the winner to make such challenges even more exciting and motivating.
Include intense exercising or physical activities in your vacations
Whenever you plan a family vacation, don’t forget to include new and adventurous physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, cycling, etc. This way you will not only provide your kids with exposure to a new culture or enable them to explore new places but you will also make them appreciate nature and their surroundings.
Encourage physical activity by giving appropriate gifts
Be it Birthday or Christmas, instead of gifting video games; you should rather gift items that promote a healthy lifestyle and physical activity. Those gifts often include bicycles, soccer ball, roller skates et cetera. If your kid is insistent on getting video games then at least make it an interactive video game where they will get to put in a lot of physical effort.
Make transportation an excuse to exercise
You can encourage jogging or walking by making your kids walk to school or park. Make them take the stairs to get in some extra physical activity for the day.
Find physical activities which align with passion or interests of your kids
Remember that any kind of physical activity, be it dancing or basketball or hiking is good. If you can find a physical activity that aligns with your child’s passion then they are more likely to maintain that activity because they will love doing it. They don’t exactly have to be the best dancer or basketball player to engage in them every day. As long as they are enjoying it they will continue to do it.
Make your kids do household chores
This is a win-win for both the kids and their parents. Vacuuming the house, doing the dishes, mowing the lawn are all such chores that require some degree of physical work. While your kids remain engaged, your share of chores also reduces.
Become a healthy role model
Most doctors say that kids do what they see. Parents are the biggest source of motivation for kids. If you can make time to be active daily, be sure that your kid will try to model your behavior and will start being active themselves.
Seek medical guidance
Overdoing anything is always more harmful than beneficial. You should keep in mind the age and health conditions of your child and plan activities accordingly. If your kid has certain physical conditions, seek medical advice on exercises that will be appropriate for your kid.
Kids tend to lose interest in activities very quickly. Your kid may want to explore various activities and give up on their previous interests. This is quite common among kids. You need to be supportive of such choices so that your kid doesn’t give up on exercising.
Your children are more likely to be energized and active if you provide them with a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet. Following a proper routine, eating healthy, being well-rested and various other factors play a big role in your kid’s physical health. Exercise and physical activity alone cannot provide a healthy life.
What are the benefits of physical activity to Child?
Being regularly active from a young age will help your kids to become healthy adults. There also exists research that shows that more active kids tend to do better in their schools. Physical activity and sports help kids to distress and release their pent up energy. Such activities will also develop clarity, coordination, and resilience in your kids.
What are the age-appropriate physical activities for preschoolers?
Kids in this age group can’t follow complex instructions and they lack the skills or coordination required to play team sports. Focus on activities that improve their motor skills. Try activities like riding a bike, kicking the ball, throwing a frisbee, or a simple obstacle course.
What are the age-appropriate physical activities for school going kids?
Kids in this age can participate in team sports such as basketball, baseball, volleyball, or even badminton. Keep in mind the kind of activities that interest your kid so that they enjoy doing it.
What are the age-appropriate physical activities for teens?
Teens have a lot of choices at their disposal. Being the age group that is likely to be most busy with school and extracurricular activities or even gadgets, provide them with options that will be fun for them like dancing or playing hoops. Physical activities like yoga and jogging can also be a great way to distress for your teens.
What is the fitness personality of my kid?
There are mainly 3 types of fitness personality. Kids who belong to “The nonathlete” category lack interest and often lack athletic ability in any kind of physical activity or sports. “The casual athlete” kids have an interest in physical activities but are not very good or excellent at sports.
These kids don’t thrive well in athletic competitions and tend to get discouraged from physical activities as they feel they are not meant for sports. “The athlete” category consists of kids who excel at sports and have athletic abilities.
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Mother of Two children. I’m a former teacher with a background in child development and a passion for Good parenting. I understand child development and know how to develop activities to help children learn and grow. Spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and volunteering in my community.