Did you know that physically active children are also more likely to sleep better, be healthier, more alert and academically successful? They are also less likely to develop chronic illnesses such as diabetes and osteoporosis later in life.
Yet the ill effects of sedentary lifestyle do not afflict only adults. The percentage of overweight and obese kids and teens is rising rapidly, having more than doubled in the past 30 years.
The average child today watches about 3 hours of television a day and spends an additional 2½ hours on the computer outside of schoolwork in activities such as playing video games.
As a parent you need to ensure that your children get enough exercise. All children two years of age and older should get at least an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise on most, preferably all, days of the week.
For many parents the key question is how to ensure that their children remain motivated to exercise and lead healthy active lifestyle.
Tips for Motivating Your Children to Exercise
1. Limit the amount of time spent in sedentary activities.
Children under the age of two years should watch no television at all and older children’s amount of screen time should be limited to no more than 1-2 hours of quality programming a day.
2. Choose the right activities for your child’s age.
If your child is a preschooler, he/she needs exercise that helps him/her continue to develop basic motor skills such as kicking or throwing a ball, playing tag, or riding a bike. Older children should be encouraged to participate in traditional team sports such as soccer, baseball, and basketball, and camping and hiking.
3. Give your children plenty of opportunity to be active.
Children need parents to make activity easy by providing them equipment and taking them to playgrounds and other active spots. Many children stop exercising as they grow older as demands of schoolwork increase. You should encourage older children to exercise by showing them that you value health and fitness as much as academic success.
4. Keep the focus on fun.
Making children do activities they don’t enjoy can be a very frustrating experience. As an adult when you think of exercise, you probably think of working out in the gym on a treadmill or lifting weights. But for children, exercise means playing and having fun. Young children’s exercise could consist simply of climbing to the top of a slide or swinging from the monkey bars, or playing tag. Encourage older children to participate in sports they like.
5. Be a role model.
Our likes, dislikes, and habits are very strongly influenced by our parents. You could exert a powerful positive influence on your children by embracing a healthy lifestyle yourself. Eat a healthy diet and be physically active yourself and your children will follow you in your footsteps.