Children are naturally active. They engage in physical play to explore the world, and they get a lot of exercise doing so. In fact, adults often get frustrated with how active young children are. As children age, it can be hard for them to get enough activity. This may be due to increasing academic demands, a lack of free time or a mistaken belief that you shouldn’t bother if you aren’t good at sports. Here are 6 tips for raising healthy and active children.
Choose Activities Right for Your Child
One facet of this is choosing activities that are right for your child’s age. If you push a child into a challenging sport at an early age, they may give up on not just that sport but all sports. Alternatively, they may be bored and essentially sit it out. If you aren’t sure what activities are suitable for your child, talk to your pediatrician. For example, a seven year old shouldn’t be lifting weights but could join gymnastics.
Prioritize Play Time
Don’t assume your kids will get enough exercise in their thirty minute break between academics and other activities. Prioritize playtime. Give them time in the schedule to take dance classes or play sports. If they lose interest in an activity, drop it in favor of something else, because the goal is to keep it fun. Furthermore, you don’t have to shuttle them from lessons to sports matches. Simply set aside time each day to let them runaround on playgrounds or play basketball on the driveway. The ideal solution is following a daily schedule that gives them an hour or more of free time to play or join in various physical activities.
Keep It Up
Parents may consider scheduling regular play-times and continuing to monitor their child’s physical activity once soccer season is over. However, regular physical activity has many benefits. It reduces your child’s risk of diabetes and tends to improve their mood. It helps them maintain a healthy weight and improves their quality of sleep. Let your children play for half an hour to an hour after they get home from school, and they’re better able to sit down and do their homework.
This is why you want to find activities throughout the year that engage your child’s mind and body. However, you want to give them plenty of free time to play, as well. For older kids who find the term playdates embarrassing, set up an exercise plan. Provide the necessary gear including workout clothes and transportation as necessary. Encourage them whether they’re going to the gym, riding a bike or attending a yoga class. For younger children, you could give them access to jump ropes, tricycles and balls.
Make It a Family Activity
Find fun family activities you can do together. Then you’re setting an example for your child while ensuring they get enough exercise. This could include family walks and bike rides or playing in the swimming pool together. Or you could work out while young children play with hula hoops and balls.
Teach Them How to Stay Safe
Teach your children how to listen to their body so they know when they’re overdoing it. Model healthy behaviors like staying hydrated or tending to injuries immediately. Discuss how to keep themselves safe such as never running into the road to chase after a ball or obeying the rules of the road when riding a bike in the street.
Remove the Distractions
A lot of kids come home from school and plop down in front of the TV or computer screen. They only pull away from it when told to do their homework or come to dinner. If you don’t limit screen time, they may only sit there and watch or read content. The solution is to limit their screen time to no more than one or two hours a day. This includes video games, television and computers.
Exercise is as important as a balanced diet for living a healthy life. This is why encouraging an active lifestyle for your children are probably one of the best things you can do for them.