Competition from screens and cuts to school physical education programs have today’s kids more inactive than ever. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 20 percent of kids aged 6 to 19 are considered obese. Only about 18 percent of high-school students currently meet the CDC-recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous daily activity.
In addition to keeping kids at a healthy weight and reducing their risk for diseases like diabetes, physical activity reduces anxiety, betters academic performance and improves sleep. By helping your children establish a healthy lifestyle during childhood, you’ll set them up for continued success in adulthood.
These 10 tips should help get your family up, moving and motivated.
- Lead by example—A Boston University study recently found that parents who were active on a daily basis raised kids who were more active from a very young age. This positive ripple effect went beyond just the physical results of exercise: Children of active parents were attuned to how mom and dad’s moods improved post-workout.
- Get involved—If possible, join in the game of tag or hopscotch. If not, stay present when supervising or watching and you’ll still encourage a positive association with physical fitness.
- Make it fun—Youth fitness advocate Jodi Evans suggests seeing fitness through a child’s eyes: If it’s not fun, it won’t become habit. There’s no need for a structured class or practice; a dance party, sprinkler run or backyard obstacle course all work.
- Schedule play—Many kids are so busy with homework and nonphysical extracurricular activities that they simply don’t have the time to exercise. CEO, elite coach and trainer certification specialist Brian Grasso says to slot “play” into your family’s daily schedule. See his list of family games for inspiration.
- Ditch the car—Whenever possible, walk, bike or scoot to your destination. You could even make a family rule: If we can get there in 20 minutes or less without the car, we don’t take the car!
- Make weekends active—Use the longer blocks of time to go on hikes, walk around downtown or participate in a jog-a-thon fundraiser.
- Let them walk the dog—You may have to supervise depending on your child’s age, but let your kids plan and lead a dog walk. Not only will this get them moving, but it’ll also teach them responsibility.
- Provide active toys—For preschool- and elementary-aged kids, having an ample supply of balls, Hula-Hoops and jump ropes is key. If you have the budget and space, a mini-trampoline is a solid investment.
- Go on post-dinner walks—Take a 15-minute family stroll between dinner and bed. Kids thrive on routine, especially when it comes to transitioning to bedtime. A walk not only will give them one last chance to move, but it’ll also aid in digestion and help their sensory development.
- Try a variety of sports—Don’t conclude that your kid doesn’t like sports just because soccer and gymnastics didn’t go well. Have them try outside-the-box sports, like kayaking, weightlifting, synchronized swimming or parkour. Finding a fit is worth the time and energy—if they enjoy what they are doing, they’re more likely to stick with it.
Photo credit: Derek Owens, Unsplash