The percentage of overweight kids has more than doubled over the past 30 years. Although many factors contribute to this epidemic, it is a fact that kids are becoming more sedentary. So keeping kids active is more important than ever. The American Academy of Pediatrics says the average child watches about three hours of television per day, not including time spent on other types of electronic media.
Exercise provides tons of benefits for children. For kids, exercise means playing and being physically active. Children who get regular exercise sleep better, have a more positive outlook on life, and develop strong muscles and bones. In addition, exercise helps kids maintain a healthy weight and decreases their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Studies also suggest that healthy, physically active students are more likely to be academically motivated, alert, and successful. Furthermore, physical competence tends to boost self-esteem at every age.
Every child needs exercise. Parents can help to ensure that their children are getting the recommended amount of daily exercise. According to dietary guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, all children two years and older should exercise almost every day!
Keep Your Kids Active With These 8 Tips
- Choosing the right activity for a child’s age is extremely important. If we force children to participate in activities that they do not enjoy, they may get bored and frustrated. In order for children to have an interest in fitness, it must be FUN!
- Kids need parents to provide them with opportunities to be active. Gather some sporting equipment and take your kids to the park. Play catch. Involve the entire family.
- Aerobic activities increase cardiorespiratory fitness. Running, hopping, skipping, jumping rope, swimming, dancing, and bicycling are all examples of fun aerobic activities.
- Play games such as red light-green light or red rover. If you don’t know the rules, make them up; kids won’t know the difference as long as they are having fun!
- Involve kids in muscle-strengthening activities. This can be unstructured and part of activities, such as playing on playground equipment, climbing trees, or playing tug-of-war.
- Organize your next party around an activity, offering bowling, rock climbing or roller skating.
- On weekends, put your kids in charge of picking the activity for the day. Allowing kids to choose physical activities will make it more fun for them.
- When rewarding your kids, give the gift of activity- new athletic gear or an afternoon at a special park.
All kids can be physically fit.
A parent’s positive attitude will help a child who’s reluctant to exercise. Be active yourself and support your child’s interest. If you encourage physical activity early in a child’s life, your child will come to regard physical activity as a normal part of their everyday routine.
Sources: KidsHealth.org, American Academy of Pediatrics, Kaiser Family Foundation, US Department of Agriculture, US Department of Health and Human Services, National Association for Sport and Physical Education, and Washington and Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Centers. For additional information, consult your physician.