Childhood obesity is becoming an all-to-common problem across the globe. The age of extensive TV programs and online gaming is seeing more children seated for extended periods and spending less and less time performing much-needed physical activities.
Yet, like adults, children need exercise. Experts recommend that children between the ages of six and 17 practice moderate to vigorous exercise for at least one hour a day and participate in strengthening activities that promote strong bones, like skipping and jumping, at least three times a week.
So, how can you encourage your child to spend less time in front of the screen and exercise more? We understand this is no easy feat and have compiled several tips to help you motivate your child to be more physically active.
Be a role model
Children are known to imitate adults. As a result, one of the best ways to encourage your child to be physically active is to lead by example.
For instance, if you’re a jogger, take your child with you to the local football or sports field and have them run about and play on the field while you run laps.
Or better yet, get them to run with you. Another option is to set up fun games like hopscotch on the driveway or in the garden and play a few games with them a few times a week. The hopping and jumping motions in this game are ideal for bone strengthening.
Make activity social
Encourage other kids to join in on your exercise activities. Doing this translates exercise into fun and encourages your child to get involved. For instance, take the neighborhood kids to play ball, skate, or bike ride.
Alternatively, you can sign up for weekend activities like community hikes, nippers classes on the beach, or even a peewee baseball club. Getting involved in activities like these ensure your child will get their daily hour of exercise, have fun, make friends, and build social skills.
Choose an activity that is developmentally appropriate
When picking physical activities to engage your child in, make sure they are age appropriate.
For example, a seven or eight-year-old will not do well going for a mile-long jog, but a fifteen-year-old will. Similarly, a younger child will have a lot of fun riding bikes, playing soccer, going for nature walks, or swimming. Picking activities that suit their capabilities makes it more fun and will be more inviting for your child.
Organize a charity run for kids and parents
Again, this ties in with being an active role model for your child. By offering to host a charity event like an organized run for children and parents, you teach your child about giving back while encouraging physical exercise.
In addition to promoting physical activity, an event like this is something the entire family can do together and creates an exciting way to enjoy family time and bond. Further, when the school or community becomes involved, it also becomes a social activity, and not wanting to miss out, more kids, including your own, will want to be included.
Limit TV and computer time
The most prominent problem parents encounter is screen time. With all sorts of new and exciting TV shows available and the addition of phones, tablets, social media, computers, and online gaming, drawing children away from their various screens seems almost impossible.
As a result, limiting screen time becomes imperative, as this not only carves out more time for physical activity but also improves their quality of sleep and cognitive functioning.
Give gifts that promote physical activity
Plenty of fun and exciting items promote physical activities that make excellent gifts. For instance, rollerblades or rollerskates, soccer or netballs, swimming goggles and flippers, skateboards, skipping ropes, bicycles, and even activity-tracking apps or devices that encourage kids to log their activities are all excellent options.
Additionally, by gifting them something fun, your children will get in their physical activity without realizing they’re even exercising, again emphasizing fun rather than regimented “workouts.”
It isn’t simple to draw children out of their screen time and encourage them to form healthy, active habits. But, by making the activities fun, social, and even charitable, you will find that your child wants to be involved without you having to do much encouraging at all.