I get that it’s winter.
I get that it’s freezing (heck, we got 10 inches of snow last week!).
But my kids are ANTSY to move.
And even though it might not feel like it when you’ve got children running circles around the house, flailing body parts and jumping up and down all.day.long, your children might not be getting enough exercise. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the last 30 years, leaving more than a THIRD of our children overweight or obese (source). Genetics and diet play a role, yes, but our trend towards inactivity can also be to blame.
Exercise is important for children for the following reasons:
- It controls their weight.
- It helps them sleep better at night, for longer and higher quality.
- It helps them have higher self-esteem and self confidence by improving their well being.
- Exercise reduces blood pressure.
- Exercise reduces risk of diabetes and some types of cancer.
The American Heart Association recommends, for children 2 and older, 60 minutes of physical activity a day. If you don’t have an hour, split it up in two 30-minute periods. So the question is:
How can we as parents get our children to LOVE fitness?
Here are five easy ways to get started today!
Be the change you wish to see!
Our kids pattern behavior that they see in us, whether it be positive or negative. Make sure that you yourself are meeting the recommended daily exercise requirements. For adults, this means at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Sweat doesn’t necessarily have to be involved – you can take a walk around the block, work in the yard or play Frisbee. As long as you’re moving, it counts! Create a habit of physical activity for yourself and your children will most likely follow suit!
Get them involved in SPORTS!
In most states, children as young as 4 years old can be involved in community sports such as soccer, baseball and gymnastics (we all know how Henry’s soccer season went. ). Karate is also a great option – often perfect for children who need a little more discipline structure. Childhood involvement in sport activities has been proven to increase the likelihood of ADULT involvement in such activities. Contact your local recreation park to learn more about sign up dates and deadlines!
Head to the park!
Exercise should be FUN and who doesn’t have fun at the park! Playing at the park for 30-60 minutes should provide plenty of physical activity for your child! YOU can even get in a good workout at the same time. Think Monkey Bar Pull-ups, pumping your legs on the swing set or triceps dips off the park bench. <-although I gotta say, it is kinda nice to just sit on the bench in peace.
Make it a FAMILY affair!
Get outside and play active games, such as “Red Rover”, “Capture the Flag” or “Tag”. Take family walks down at your local track or greenway and let your little ones run beside you. Better yet, bring their bikes along – just don’t forget the helmets!
Purchase active video games.
If all else fails and you’ve got to stay inside, purchase an interactive video game system, such as Wii Fit, XBox 360 Kinect or a Playstation Move. The initial investment for these products might be steep, but they can be “played” everyday and are a great way to sneak exercise into your child’s day. (We’re “borrowing” my sister’s Wii right now and LOVE it for those days we can’t get outside.)
Overall, I think one of the best gifts we can give our children is SELF ESTEEM. Yes, self, meaning it must spring from within them. But when we encourage and praise (both when they win AND lose), we play a role in fostering up that child’s self image.
Tell them they’re super fast (!!).
That you’ve never seen moves like that (!!).
That they have a super high jumps (!!).
(use the word super a lot).
Hands down, praise is one of the best parenting tools I have in my bag of tricks! (it also happens to work on husbands too. #amiright)
QUESTION: Any tips to add?? How do you get your kids off the couch?