Children love to exercise, and they need to exercise. Let’s face it, kids need daily physical activity to enhance their fitness, maintain good health, and live in a body weight that is right for them.
Lack of daily physical activity negatively impacts your child’s fitness level and is a strong contributor to an unhealthy weight (childhood obesity).
Guidelines for Encouraging Your Child’s Fitness
The Physical Prescription for Fitness:
Duration, intensity, and type of physical activity does matter. While any movement is better than none, experts recommend at least 1 hour of physical activity per day, both from planned activity and free play.
No longer is walking the dog adequate, experts want to see children sweaty, red-faced, and breathless every day. If you are relying on school efforts, be aware that daily recess and physical education varies from school to school and may not be a significant contributor to your child’s daily activity level.
Nurture Fitness with Nature:
The number one predictor of physical activity in children is time spent outdoors. Get outside as a family and encourage your child to play outside as often as possible.
Get Gear for Fitness:
Let your child pick out their own active wear, shoes and sports aids. Whether an independent exerciser or part of an athletic team, children enjoy having gear that supports their activities. Who doesn’t love running to music? Or shooting baskets in the driveway?
Having the right gear can rally excitement around being active and can promote movement. For the teen, gym memberships, pedometers, and exercise groups/classes can be a positive motivator, as well. I’ve got some good fitness gear in my nutrition store–check it out!
Walk the Talk:
More than 40% of a child’s health is determined by his or her behavior. That’s more than genetics, healthcare, or social influences. You are your child’s behavior barometer—your child will do what you do. So, go on, get moving!
Breaking down barriers:
Identify any road blocks that may get in the way of your family’s activity level, such as busy work schedules. Find solutions, not excuses, for how to deal with these road blocks that will fit your unique family circumstances.
Be Tech Savvy:
If your child is having a difficult time giving up video games, try compromising with ones that are more active and interactive. Hands-on video games, TV exercise programs, and interactive websites can be the beginning of increased activity for your child.
Physical activity and fitness are necessary parts of being healthy and having a healthy future. Often, one avenue of activity is not the magic pill—it is a conglomeration of several efforts, each and every day.