Motivate Your Children to Be Active
Childhood sets the foundation for a child’s health and adulthood. A child who is active will be able to better maintain a healthy weight. They will also be less likely to develop chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Exercise builds stronger muscles and bones. It also improves brain function, such as memory, focus, attention, and problem-solving, which can help a child do better in school. Exercise can help to reduce stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression. At the same time, it can also help to build a child’s confidence and self-esteem. Their quality of sleep may also improve.
The amount of physical activity a child needs depends on their age. Preschool-aged children (ages 3 through 5) should be active throughout the day. School-aged children and adolescents (ages 6 through 17) are recommended to have at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day. This is anything that will get their heart beating faster and have them breathing harder than normal. While aerobic exercise should make up most of those 60 minutes to help strengthen the heart and lungs, it is also important to include muscle- and bone-strengthening activities at least 3 days a week. This will strengthen the entire body. A lot of activities actually work on multiple parts of the body. So as long as your child stays active, they will most likely meet these recommendations.
For the past year, staying active has been difficult for most people since we are almost always at home, but there are still many ways to keep your child moving. Here are some tips:
Get everyone involved. You can motivate and set a good example for your child if you and the rest of the family are also moving and having fun with them!
Enjoy the outdoors, even if it is just your neighborhood. If you are comfortable going outside, going on family walks is a great way for everyone to get some fresh air and sunshine while staying active. Riding a bicycle may also be an option. Even stepping out of the house just to walk, jump rope, or stretch in the backyard can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors. You can also play some sports while still being safe such as tennis, golf, or even a game of catch.
Make the most out of your home! For younger children, you can have them go around the house finding items of a certain color or things that begin with a specific letter. You can also build an obstacle course in the house using pillows. For your older children, have them help out with house chores to get them moving.
Play active games. Games like balloon volleyball can be a fun way to keep your child occupied. (The goal of balloon volleyball is to continue hitting a balloon without it falling on the ground.) There are also many video games available to get kids moving by playing virtual sports or dancing.
Make commercial breaks a time to get everybody moving. During those ten minutes of commercials, get everyone on their feet. Do some jumping jacks, dance, or even stretch out your body.
Have a dance party to show off your moves! Dancing is a great way to stay moving while having fun and showing off your creativity. Everybody can participate and pick their favorite songs to dance to.
Incorporate exercise into their gaming. For older children, you can encourage them to break up their sitting time by having them do quick exercises if they lose in the game they are playing. Have them agree that they will do some push-ups, sit-ups, or jumping jacks (or whatever they prefer) before starting a new round.
Make the most of online resources! There are many resources online to follow. A simple search for a quick cardio, dance, or yoga video can help you and your child do something active together.
It is important to make staying active a fun activity, and not a punishment, so try out different activities and see what your child enjoys. Stay safe, have fun, and keep moving!
Written by Ashley Chong