How to raise active kids
Most younger children, given the choice, would choose to be active. Nurseries and schools recognise this and fitness activities are structured and implemented into the curriculum. It's up to us as parents to build good healthy routines and practices into their lives. With childhood obesity at an all-time high, there is no time like the present to consider a change of lifestyle, however small, for your family. The British Medical Association (BMA) published a briefing in March 2010, and their findings are very concerning:
1 in 5 children are overweight
1 in 10 of these children are obese or severely obese.
So what can we do as parents?
Children learn by what they see, so make fitness fun and they will be more receptive and willing to take part in activities, especially if all of the family are involved. Motivation is the key, and by making fitness enjoyable children will respond in a positive manner. If implemented at as early an age as possible, will last throughout their lives.
Ideas for healthy activities
Most sports are fun and enjoyed by children of all ages. Why not look at doing some of these actiivities as a family:
Walking - Walking the dog, walking to the park, walking to friends, walking to school. Buying the kids a pedometer is a fun way to encourage them to gauge how far they have walked in a day or a week.
- Playing football or catch in the garden or park is a lovely way to spend a few hours together. Vary the games by taking different toys along each week e.g. skipping ropes, roller skates, hula-hoop, bat and ball, frisbee, toy golf set, skateboard etc. Helping with the gardening also educates children about their environment, wildlife and recycling.
Cycling - Go on a bike ride. Cycle around your local area and explore, or try one of the many cycle tracks around the country. For a list of cycle tracks near you, visit www.cycle-route.com
After school activities - Look around for some local clubs that your child would be interested in joining. There is so much choice available - i.e. cheerleading, dancing, gymnastics, football, martial arts, running etc, the list is endless. Your local authority, library and community centre should be able to provide you with what's on in your area.
Swimming - Visiting the local swimming pool once a week as a family is a great way for everyone to get excercise - AND IT'S FUN!
Not all activities have to be sports orientated, some activities carried out indoors are are just as stimulating and could include:
chores, board games, miming games, role playing, puzzles, reading, drawing, helping with cooking, washing up etc.One way that I found helped my child be more active when she was younger was to complete a chart for carrying out an activity each day, and then reward her by allowing her to choose the family activity at the end of the week.
Indoor Play Areas - This is good fun for younger children as they can play safely in ball ponds and climbing on soft equipment.
What changes to implement
- Limit time spent watching television
- Limit time spent on the computer
- Limit the time spent gaming
- Spend more quality time together as a family
By offering attractive alternative activities, most children want fun and quality time with their families. Parents should always lead by example - If a child sees their parents as "couch potatoes" then they themselves will have no desire to be active.
Children should be praised and encouraged when taking part in an activity, this instils confidence and boosts their self-esteem. Maybe you could take turns in choosing the activity. Choice is also important to children as this will give them some control and encourage them to make decisions
These days, most parents have to work out of necessity and rarely spend much time talking to their children or doing any activities as a family. As parents, we should set aside a few hours per week to do things together. Sometimes when we get home from work, we get caught up in household matters and don't find the time to catch up. In fact, according to a Daily Mail online survey in 2009, 55% of parents stated that the only way they spent any time together as a family was watching TV. Could we spend our time together more wisely by perhaps going for a walk after dinner, or playing in the garden?
Fresh outdoor air is important to all of us as it stimulates our minds, cleans our lungs and increases energy levels. As a childs fitness level increases, so does their outlook on life. They will begin to feel healthier, happier and actually want to be active. Incorporating outdoor play and activities should be carried out whenever possible.
Life passes by so quickly and our kids don't stay kids for very long. Try to make the most of each day and take some time out to enjoy family activities. Healthy children are more active and content.