Physically Active Kids are Healthier!
Ever wonder how to get your child to be one of the physically active kids. You know it is important for their health and well-being, but sometimes wonder what the best ways to get them involved so they will enjoy physical activity and build health life-long habits.
With childhood obesity increasing at staggering rates, parents and caregivers must play an active role in protecting children’s health. Eating healthy foods is a key factor in maintaining their overall well-being. But, this has to be balanced with regular physical activity.
Children who are physically active on a regular basis will reap enormous benefits. Studies have shown that they:
- Are less likely to become overweight
- Have a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Have reduced blood cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure
- Have higher self-esteem and reduced incidences of depression and anxiety
- Are more likely to build strong bones and muscles
- Are more attentive in school
But did you know:
- Only 1 in 3 children are physically active every day.
- Less than 50% of the time spent in sports practice, games, and physical education class involves moving enough to be considered physical activity.
- Children and teens spend more than 7 hours per day on average using TVs, computers, phones, and other electronic devices for entertainment.
- About 1 out of 3 children is either overweight or obese in the United States.
- Overweight teens have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.
Now that you are aware of the risks and benefits how do you get your child involved in physical activity?
Keep it simple. Since many kids spend a full day in school learning and following a schedule they need an outlet to unwind when they get home. Most kids spend a lot of their time after school playing video games, watching TV, or sitting in front of a computer. However, children need about an hour a day of physical activity to stay healthy. Keeping activities simple is the best way to get your child involved. Not every child needs to be a superstar athlete. The activity could be as simple as jogging, biking, shooting hoops or just playing at the park with friends.
A full hour of activity a day can seem like a daunting task to complete with how busy a child’s schedule can be including school, homework, and extracurricular activities. Break it up. Just make sure your child accumulates 60 minutes of physical activity throughout the course of the day. Walking for 10 minutes, riding a bike around town for 20 minutes after school, then ending the day with 30 minutes outside running around with friends after dinner. By breaking the activities up into smaller increments enables your child to get in an adequate amount of physical activity without interrupting their schedules.
Another great way to encourage your child to get active is to get involved yourself, be the role model for physical activity. If you yourself are leading an active lifestyle, your children are sure to follow in your footsteps. In addition to leading your own healthy lifestyle get involved in your child’s physical activity as well. There are many activities that you and your children can participate in together. Go for a walk together. This activity not only promotes physical activity but it can also be a great time to talk with your child and increase the amount of quality time you can spend with your child.
The best way to encourage children to stay active is to closely monitor the time they spend doing sedentary activities. Sedentary activities are good for those times when your mind and body are just too tired to exert energy, but you should definitely make sure to limit the time your children spend watching TV or playing video games. Experts say no more than two hours a day of TV and video games. There are however some ways to combine physical activity with screen time when necessary for example when the weather prevents outdoor activities. There are many internet sites like gonoodle and youtube where you can find some children friendly yoga, zumba and dance games. Some video game consoles offer add on equipment for your child to exercise during certain video games as well.
When talking with your children about physical activities versus sedentary activities it is very important to try not to be too strict, but make sure they understand the importance of physical activity. Stay positive and supportive of your children and they will soon enjoy the benefits of physical activity.