Ways to Ensure Your Kids Get Enough Physical Activity
Most children do not get enough physical activity these days. With schools eliminating their physical education programs and kids spending more time watching TV and playing video games, it is no wonder childhood obesity at an all-time high (and still climbing). In the last 30 years, it has doubled and as of 2012, 18% of children under the age of 12 were obese.
During the six hours per day on average that kids spend watching TV and on their computers, they are not burning as many calories as they are taking in. As a matter-of-fact, they are most likely also eating unhealthy food while watching TV so not only are they not burning calories, they are consuming more.
So how do you ensure your kid is getting enough physical activity? Here are 4 ways that will get your child moving:
1) Set the example
If you are not regularly exercising, how can you expect your kids to do the same? You can start small by organizing a family walk each night after dinner. On the weekends, do a physical activity that takes more time, like a bike ride or hike.
If you are in an area with inclement weather part of a year, opt for a family membership at a gym or YMCA. Many facilities have an indoor swimming pool and jogging track in addition to various exercise machines and free weights. Ask whether your gym offers exercise classes or not, such a Pilates, Yoga, Zumba, etc. Many places include them free of charge in your membership or charge a nominal fee to participate.
Not only will you show your kid how important (and fun) exercise can be, but you will be getting the physical activity you need as well.
2) Limit time in front of the TV and computer
As said before, time spent watching TV and playing video games is time not spent in a physical activity. Each kid should get at least 60 minutes a day of some type of physical activity. Ensure your kid there will still be time for their favorite non-physical activity.
3) Schedule physical activity
As the old saying goes, “What gets scheduled, gets done”. Without scheduling a block of time each day on the calendar, it is easy for that time to get overridden by something else, or forget to exercise, or just decide not to do it. However when it is written there in plain sight, it is harder to overlook.
4) Encourage sport participation
Participating in team sports does more for your child than provide a means of exercising. They also learn cooperation and leadership. However, team sports are not for everyone and when that is the case, encourage your child to participate in non-team sports, such as swimming, jogging, walking, rock climbing or tennis.
Getting daily physical activity does not have to be a drudgery. It can actually be fun! Plus it enhances weight management, develops muscles and strengthens the heart and lungs.
5 More Ideas for Exercising With Your Kids
From the time that your children are toddlers until they reach adulthood, they spend a lot of time strapped into a car safety seat or sitting in front of a monitor. You want your kids to exercise more, but it’s sometimes tough to get them motivated. Children look up to and emulate their parents, so why not exercise right alongside your kids?
The benefits of getting active with your children are many. Heart health goes up, so do calorie and fat burning, and your family’s risk of getting sick goes down. You spend valuable time together, which can strengthen the bond of your relationship. You physically and mentally benefit from the rewards that exercise offers, and getting active together limits both you and your child’s time in front of an energy-sapping smartphone, television or computer screen.
Try the following 5 ideas to get you exercising with your children instead of simply preaching to them about staying active. You may find the rewards go far beyond physical fitness.
Schedule before or after meal walks
A one mile walk burns roughly 100 calories. But you don’t have to take your kids walking a mile to benefit from this time together. Walk around your neighborhood before or after breakfast or dinner. Point out and comment on the landmarks, pets, house colors, trees or other objects along the way, making the walk memorable and enjoyable.
Schedule “pick your own” sports days
This can also be a nighttime activity. Pick one day a week that you allow your child to choose a favorite sport or physical activity to enjoy. Get the whole family involved. Each week, allow a different family member to choose a favored exercise routine or sport. (FitDeck.com makes a deck of cards with different exercises on each. Simply draw a card and perform that activity, for a simple spin on physical fitness that keeps kids engaged.)
Go camping, fishing, hiking
Exposure to the sun, even just 10 minutes, delivers healthy levels of vitamin D and vitamin K. Getting into the great outdoors minimizes sedentary time spent on a cell phone, tablet or laptop. Fishing, camping and hiking all teach teamwork, planning, preparation and survival skills. You and your children are exercising without even knowing it when you take a hike, spend the weekend camping or enjoy a fishing trip.
Form your own biker gang
Bikes are relatively inexpensive, affordable for just about every budget level. Most major cities offer free bikes to those that cannot afford them, and bike rental locations are common as well. Make a biking day, where the family rides together. To keep boredom from setting in, choose a different venue for your biking experience each time.
Go dog walking or spotting
Take the dog for a walk. This can be a family activity, with a different person rewarded with holding the leash each time. Don’t have a dog? Go dog spotting (or cat spotting, for that matter). The idea is to make walking, therefore exercising, the secondary objective, selling your child on a fun activity rather than the walking which is required to accomplish it.