According to the American Heart Association, one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese, making it the number one health concern among parents in our
country. At the same time, Type 2 diabetes, which is primarily found in adults, is on the rise among American children. Aside from the numerous risks and complications associated with these issues (such as the fact that obese children can start showing signs of heart disease as young as age 8), the truly unfortunate part is that both obesity and type 2 diabetes are mostly preventable. Aside from a nutritious diet, exercise and physical activity are crucial to your child’s health and development. Yet, with the prevalence of smartphones, tablets, unlimited television, and video games, it can be hard to get your child off the couch and outside. The Centers for Disease Control recommends at least 1 hour of physical activity every day for children. Below, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you encourage your child get up and get moving.
1: Set An Example
As parents, we know that children are more likely to copy our actions than listen to what we say. If your child only sees you lounging around, then they’ll pick up the same habit. Make time to exercise yourself. Spend time outside. Pick up a physical hobby. Anything you can do to foster a positive attitude towards exercise and physical activity will go a long way.
2: Plan Outdoor Activities
Ride bikes. Go hiking. Swim. Play catch. Visit a zoo. Fun outdoor activities are a great way to keep your child active. Consider some fun age appropriate games as well, such as tag, hide and go seek, or capture the flag.
3: Limit TV Time
If you’re worried about your kids spending too much time in front of the television, turn it off! Set limits to how long your kids can watch television, and designate a block of time where the TV must remain off. During the off time, encourage your kids to use their imagination or play games.
4: Do Chores Together
No, yardwork and chores aren’t as fun as games. But they do make for good physical activity, and they help instill important values, such as responsibility and work ethic, in your children. Still, you can find a way to make chores fun. Turn them into a competition. See who can fold the laundry the fastest or who can rake the most leaves.
5: Encourage Exploration
Children are naturally curious, and you can use that to your advantage when it comes to keeping them active. Encourage your kids to get outside and explore the world around them (safely, of course). Your back yard is full of natural wonders for your kids to analyze, examine, and play with.
6: Support Extra-Curricular Involvement
School and club sports, Boy/Girl Scouts, dance classes, gymnastics, and service organizations all offer great opportunities for kids to learn, socialize, and, most importantly, stay active. Your pediatrician can help you find out what’s available in your area and encourage your kids to get involved.