With the increase in technology and the growing trend of gaming system, more and more children are spending excess amounts of time in front of the television and computer rather than going outside and exercising. It’s easy to say that not every child enjoys playing sports or is naturally athletic, but there is more to do than participate in athletics. Exercise is a major part of healthy living and will, for obvious reasons, lower the percentage of obese children in the United States. Just like nutrition, commit to these five tips and be on your way to a more physically fit future.
1. Allow your child to be in charge.
With multiple options available to participate in physical activities and exercise, don’t limit your child to only one or two things. Just because you want your son or daughter to be a soccer star doesn’t mean that is what he/she wants to do. There are so many different things your child can take part in, and it doesn’t have to just be sports. Think about other opportunities for your child to find something he/she wants and loves to do. Look into your local park districts, YMCA or community newsletters. If your child isn’t really feeling team sports think about:
- Hiking or a Nature Club
- Martial Arts
- Bike Riding
2. Regulate screen time
Decide what works best for you and your family, but the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children should have no more than two hours of screen time per night. You may even consider turning off the television for the entire family. It will be hard for your child to not sit and watch TV, if you are sitting and watching TV.
Children relish the time they can spend with their parents. Time is limited and with both parents working to support the family thanks to a struggling economy, any extra minutes or hours you can spare as a parent, spend playing with your kids. This can be helping your child work on his/her skills on a sport he/she loves to play or just playing tag in the backyard, walking to the park, going for a bike ride or walking the dog. By actively participating, you are also setting a positive example and instilling in your children that exercise and outside playtime is fun.
4. Be your child’s personal cheerleader.
Cheer your child on based on whatever activity he/she is participating in. This means standing on the sidelines, sitting in the stands, attending recitals and meets and offering positive encouragement. This fosters learning and the desire to want to keep improving and participating. Your child knows you are on his/her side.
5.Stick to it.
It’s easy to implement a new plan for just a week, but it is important that more exercise and less sitting in front of electronics is a part of your daily life. There are obvious times to make exceptions, like your teenager has a massive term paper due or your favorite sports team is on, but still find ways to stick to your plan. When your child takes a break from homework offer to go outside and shoot some hoops or during halftime of the big game, walk the dog. Be proactive and offer encouragement. Stick to your guns. Every child will whine, but once he/she is playing, that will go away. Just remember to make and keep it fun.
Couple a fun exercise plan with a healthy diet and you are on your way to better lifestyle. Encouraging your children to exercise and eat healthy starts at home. Be the best example for your children and continue to participate in physical activity such as yoga, sand volleyball, team kickball, softball, walking and running. Cook more meals at home and your children will soon learn that a healthy lifestyle is a better lifestyle.
Utilize the Internet to your advantage and search for tips online or programs such as VeggieU to help teach your children how to be healthy.