10 Ways to Keep Your Child Active
Guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services say that children and adolescents need at least an hour a day of physical activity.
Most of the hour should be either moderate or vigorous aerobic activity.
In addition, children should participate in muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities at least three days a week.
Remember, incorporating physical activity into your child’s daily routine sets the foundation for a lifetime of fitness and good health.
What Motivates Kids to be Active?
So, there’s a lot to gain from a regular physical activity, but how do you encourage kids to do it? The three keys are:
- Choosing the right activities for a child’s age: If you don’t, the child may be bored or frustrated.
- Giving kids plenty of opportunities to be active: Kids need parents to make activity easy by providing equipment, signing them up for classes or sports teams, and taking them to playgrounds and other active spots.
- Keeping the focus on fun: Kids won’t do something they don’t enjoy.
Here are 10 Ways You Can Keep Your Child Active.
Turn TV Commercials Into Fitness Breaks.
Invent silly names for simple exercises like squats, push-ups, and sit-ups, and then do them together till the show comes back on.
Call them princess sit-ups or Bob the Builder muscle builders. You can also play “coach,” in which you take turns “ordering” each other to “drop and give me five,” or “follow the leader,” in which one person leads the others in fun, simple moves like clapping, wiggling, and marching.
Team Up for Gardening.
Kids are great at digging up dirt, so let them turn over the soil and help you plant new bulbs.
Research shows that gardening is as good as weight training when it comes to preventing osteoporosis, and if you’re planting vegetables, it can make them more appetizing to kids.
In the summer, set up a sprinkler to water the lawn and challenge kids to duck the droplets.
Take your baby for long stroller walks, so he comes to associate the outdoors with active movement.
Point out the sights as you walk and talk to your baby about your physical activity by saying things like, “Wow, Mommy is walking fast!
Do you feel the gentle breeze on your face?”.
Let’s Get Musical
Connect motion-based play with music. Babies are naturally attuned to musical rhythms, which you can teach them to associate with movement by helping them clap their hands, stomp their feet, or reach high and low in time with the beat.
Saunders says you’ll be surprised how quickly your baby learns to associate movement and music, and soon you’ll be imitating their motions to your favorite songs!
Choose the Right Activities
Sometimes, children are placed in the wrong activity. If your child is shy or timid, aggressive sports like football may not be right for her, or if your child is not particularly fast, the track may not be the best activity.
Place your child in an activity you know she will be comfortable with and take into account her personality, skills, size, and desires.
Select an activity in which she may experience some success.
Talk to your child to find out what activity excites her, and try to build on that excitement.
As an added benefit, you may find out something new that you would never have known about your child.
Teach Kids the Health Benefits of Physical Exercise
Whether they are playing sports or doing calisthenics, children should understand that the activity is helping them to stay healthy.
Talk to your children about the health benefits of their activities.
For example, if your child is on the track team and participates in the mile run, compliment his performance in the race, and mention that running improves his cardiovascular and muscular endurance.
Explain how he is making his heart stronger and improving his ability to run further and faster.
Programs that Focus on Physical Sport
Sign your child up for local recreational or sports programs. Churches, community centers, and schools usually host events throughout the summer.
Let your child choose what interests them. They may even try something new.
8. Get Friends Involved
Try to sign up your child for activities with his or her friends. Make a few phone calls to the parents of your child’s friends to see if there is interest.
Once you have them playing together, try to carpool with the other kids, and perhaps take it a step further by taking the kids out for a healthy snack when the activity is over.
Strong bonds of friendship mean the world to children, and this little extra effort will be an enormous help in motivating your child to stay with an activity.
9. Take Movement-Based Classes
Most communities have places for kids to take tumbling, swimming, dancing, or even yoga classes.
When you accompany your child to a movement-based class, you’re communicating to them that active play is an important part of their daily routine.
And if you’re not a fitness buff yourself, you’ll get the added bonus of leaving the teaching to trained professionals!
10. Reward Movement
Cheers tickles and high-fives are great ways to reinforce that your child is doing a good thing when he is playing in an active way.
Or, enjoy a glass of water or lemonade with your child after a game of backyard catch, to punctuate an active time with a satisfying reward.