Kids need exercise. It’s just a simple fact of today’s world, where childhood obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease are very real dangers to the health of our kids. In addition, inactivity in our youth can also result in diminished vision, poor posture, improper development in muscle and bone structure, and these can lead to a feeling of low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in themselves.
But it can be a challenge to get children to focus on fitness and activity when there are so many distractions indoors. Video games, TV, iPads, smartphones, technology can be a beneficial enhancement to our lives but in the case of most children and teens it can be a detrimental and damaging influence on their health. Our electronic gadgets and devices are good in limited doses and it’s important to make kids put them down for at least an hour or two a day and turn their attention to getting active and staying fit. Motivating children to go outside, play and be active, will go a long way towards keeping them healthy and happy.
The Role of Parents
Parents are always the primary stakeholders and decision-makers when it comes to their children’s health and their roles in promoting physical fitness and activity has become more critical than ever before, mainly due to changes in many school programs around the country. Nearly one fifth of the elementary schools in the U.S. have dramatically reduced or totally eliminated physical education programs from their school day. Just 8% of our nation’s elementary schools provide some form of physical education courses and it’s merely 6% of middle and high schools doing the same.
With the schools failing to provide opportunities for fitness and activity, it’s falls to parents to ensure that their kids are getting at least 60 minutes of play time each day. That guideline is according to the American Heart Association, recommended for kids ages two and up. But children aren’t the only ones who should be getting out and being active. Adults can enjoy the same cardiovascular and psychological benefits of getting exercise on a consistent basis. You can make staying fit as a family a priority by going outside together and playing or simply take a walk around the neighborhood. Designate a certain time of the day where you turn your collective attention to being active and putting down the high-tech devices.
If you find it difficult to get your kids’ minds off their fancy gadgets, incorporate fitness and activity into a game they can play with a kids fitness tracker. These little units can track everything from steps taken to calories burned to heart rates. Turn fitness into a competition to see who can walk the most steps in a day or burn the most calories. Maybe even offer a prize at the end, incentivizing your kids’ fitness routines is a great way to get them to be more excited and enthusiastic about being active.
Parents who want to get more proactive in encouraging fitness and activity in their kids can take some important steps towards promoting healthy daily routines. There are a variety of activities that parents can get their kids to take part in to bolster their endurance, flexibility, and strength in a bid to inform them of the importance of physical fitness in their lives. Devoting just an hour each day to keeping your children more active can go a long way towards laying the groundwork for healthy habits for the rest of their lives. Here are some ideas to get you started on that path:
Endurance training is designed to get the heart and lungs to work at peak performance so any aerobic activities such as jogging, swimming, skateboarding, and team activities from football to lacrosse to soccer can all be instrumental. Anything that involves running and getting the heart rate up is a good endurance activity.
Getting out on the playground can help flexibility, so can light yard work like raking leaves, even yoga can be beneficial to helping your child become more flexible. These activities can help promote better posture and reduce the feelings of soreness and stiffness in the back and the legs. These types of activities can also go a long way in getting your child to relax more.
Strength-building exercises can incorporate anything from playing on monkey bars and jungle gyms to household chores that bring lifting and carrying various weights around the house, whether it’s grabbing the groceries from the car or taking the trash out. Just be careful not to directly associate fitness with household chores or you could make your kids more resistant to getting active.