A recent research study concluded children today, are less physically fit than their parent’s generation. More often, kids are sitting on the couch and glued to screens than outside, exercising and being active. Helping your kids to be or become more active, doesn’t mean jumping on the treadmill. No way! Making exercise fun for your kids is the key to building the foundation for a healthy and active lifestyle – something your kids will benefit from their entire lives.
Children today are less physically fit than their parent’s generation and obesity is a growing, and troubling epidemic. According to this report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of adolescents aged 12 to 15 are considered physically unfit.
I remember playing outdoors from dawn until dusk all throughout childhood and especially during the long summer days. This is the sort of childhood I envision for my own kids as well.
However, this research study has found that children nowadays spend half the time their parents did playing outside which can certainly be harmful to a child’s emotional and physical state.
According to the Attention Restoration Theory, the natural environment shows the benefits of restorative and replenishing ways to recover from depletion. Another great reason why everyone in your family would benefit from fresh air!
Creating an active lifestyle for our children isn’t just about sending them outdoors, although that’s part of it, it’s about making exercise fun for your kids and involving movement into your everyday life in fun and playful ways.
Show your kids the easy ways in which exercise is fun through family outings, sports, activities. Moving off the couch and being physical is an important factor into overall health and talking to your kids about the benefits of exercise is important.
When your kids grow knowing no other lifestyle than to be active, versus sitting in front of the screen for hours on end, this healthy habit will benefit them for their rest of their lives.
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1) SPEND TIME OUTSIDE AND ACTIVITY WILL FOLLOW
Getting outside and connecting with nature is important and one easy way to build a healthy lifestyle. Open your backdoor and let your kids play without an agenda. If you live in an apartment or area without a backyard to easily do this, stop by a park for 15 or 20 minutes on the way home from school or work, and run around on the grass, explore and swing from the monkey bars.
It’s easy to sink into the couch and never want to get back out, especially after a long day at school. Set up a blanket and have a picnic or dinner outside, do homework outside, eat dinner outside, or just let your kids explore and play on their own while you watch. Just head outdoors and you’ll find that exercise naturally flows with being outside.
2) THE FAMILY THAT EXERCISES TOGETHER…
Parents set the tone for nearly every part of their child’s life. Healthy habits are passed along from parent to child so it’s the responsibility of the adult to initiate an active lifestyle to make exercise fun and children will naturally follow suit.
Taking family walks together, riding bikes, playing at the pool (read about important water safety rules to know), shooting hoops and having races in the backyard are all easy to incorporate into your lifestyle even if it’s 10 minutes a couple of times a day. Turn on the sprinklers and run around in the backyard too!
The next time you’re at the playground, don’t sit on the sidelines. Instead, play with your kids, chase them and challenge them to a race. Keep activity equipment in eyesight like soccer and basketballs. This way, your brain sees and remembers to head outside and play too.
3) PLAN GROUP ACTIVITIES TO GET OUT & MOVE
Your children might not always want to go run around the backyard, but if their parents and family are with them, there’s a good chance they won’t need any convincing to play with you. Plan outings with your kids that revolve around being active.
Family activities may be going on a hike, visiting a trampoline park, rock climbing, sledding, skiing, kayaking or exploring a new trail and getting out into nature.
Your kids love being with you so make the time you spend together healthy by being active for everyone’s benefit.
4) SHOW YOUR KIDS EXERCISE IS NOT SOMETHING TO DREAD
Exercise is not about running on the treadmill or lifting weights, especially for kids. It’s not healthy or safe for them to do exercise such as this. Being active should be fun and not a chore!
What do kids love the most? Games! If the weather is good or bad, there are always games that are active enough to do inside or out to get your kids off the couch and moving.
Some fun and active games include:
- Play a game of tag
- Hide and Seek
- Red-Light, Green-Light
- Simon Says
Other fun outdoors games, especially for the warm weather of Summer:
- Squirt Gun Fights
- Playing Catch
- Water Balloon Fights
- Kicking the Soccer Ball Around
- Flying Kites
- Jumping on the Trampoline
- Slip and Slide
The game ideas are endless and when you rotate through them, they’ll never lose their newness.
5) MIX IT UP SO NOTHING LOSES IT’S SPARKLE
Doing the same thing over and over loses its sparkle quickly, especially with kids who when they have a dozen things in front of them will jump from one thing to the next in 30-minutes.
If you have equipment in your backyard or in your home your kids use to be active, keep things fresh by only making a couple items available at a time. Create a rotation of items so equipment and toys don’t lose their luster.
6)BUST A MOVE WITH YOUR KIDS
When your kids have extra energy in the house, have been sitting too long, or you want to move a little, turn on some music and have an impromptu dance party.
When I’m making dinner, I pull out some music and the kids dance around the kitchen and living room while I cook. At night if they’re still a little wound up before bed, I’ll turn off the lights, hand out glow-sticks and have a glow in the dark dance party.
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