Keeping Families Active

shutterstock_15724291_smIt’s very easy for little kids to stay active, even indoors, toddles are always on the move. They’re just starting to explore the world and want to see all they can. As children get older, it gets more and more challenging. They start school, have homework, maybe have another daycare they go to and schedules become more hectic. The draw of tv, the internet, games and mobile devices seem to take kids away from wanting to be outdoors. But, we as parents can help make sure they stay active and enjoy it.

Consider these startling facts from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention:

  • Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
  • In 2010, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.

Instead of focusing on how we got here, let’s focus on how we can change habits and prevent it from happening to more children. Children need 60 minutes of play every day to grow up to a healthy weight. Here are a few ways to get your kids more active.

1. Sign them up for a class
This is one of the easiest ways you can make sure your child is getting exercise on a regular basis. Whether it’s a sports team, swim, dance or martial arts class, you can be assured your child is getting some good exercise every week. If you choose something your child is interested in, they will be more likely to work and play harder. Most sports programs are affordable, but if it’s still not in the budget, there are many other ways to stay active.

2. Go for a walk
Find a local park, walk into town or just around the block. Have a dog? What a great way to get outside every day! Going for walks is an excellent way to not only get exercise, but to check in with your kids and talk about their day/week and discuss topics they might not share with you otherwise. Walking together is a great way to bond with your children and as a whole family.

3. Be active together
Whether your cleaning the house, playing ball outside or going on a family outing, your children want to be with you and having you join in can make it special. Having your children help out around the house can help keep them moving and get some chores done at the same time. Take them outside and play hide and seek or play catch. Go to the park and have a picnic, find a local playground or go for a bike ride. Take them for a run or to the gym. Every gym is different, but children can be trained on the equipment at a pretty young age. Doing an exercise tape together at home can also be fun and make kids feel grown-up. For younger kids, there are parent and child classes out there such as dance, sports and yoga.

4. Limit screen time
It’s pretty easy to “check out” in front of the tv, internet, play a video game or pickup a mobile device. Even us as parents fall into that trap. Try to set certain times when it’s ok to use the screen, rather than whenever they get bored. Set limits so your child doesn’t gravitate towards that on a regular basis. And if they are in front of the tv, they don’t need to be still, make them stand, move around or choose a show or game that allows them to participate.

5. Be a good role model
Your kids look up to you and watch your every move. If you are on an exercise plan, your kids will see that and follow suit. Studies have shown that kids who are surrounded by others who are interested in being active, are more likely to be active themselves. Your kids need you, start a plan to be active today!

For more information on staying active, see these helpful links below:
Kids Health – Motivating Kids to Be Active
Let’s Move – Active Families
Health – 5 Tips for Staying Active With Kids and Family
Healthy Kids – Being Active
Global News – Tips for Kids to Stay Active This Summer

* Article first published in Zomppa magazine.