Childhood obesity rates continue to soar in. Many kids don’t shed weight as they grow older. As a result, levels of chronic disease continue to soar. One way to prevent the problem is to get your little ones active.
Fortunately, many children naturally take exercise when given the opportunity.
Here are ten smart ways to encourage your kids to be more active.
1. Move in the Morning
What you do first thing in the morning sets the tone for the entire day. If you drag yourself to the breakfast table, you might feel Eeyore-like until well past noon.
Instead, start your day with a bit of active movement. You don’t need to do more than five to ten minutes of yoga to get a morning stretch. Learn how to teach your kids the practice and have them join in the fun to get their blood flowing.
2. Encourage Their School to Bring Back P.E.
Unfortunately, despite the childhood obesity epidemic, many schools continue to cut back on electives like physical education (PE) to focus on academics. Ironically, they may shoot themselves in the foot, as movement improves school performance while controlling weight.
Get involved. Write letters to your local school board and inform them of the benefits. Network with other parents through your local PTA.
3. Take Walk Breaks
What if you had to homeschool your kids this year? If so, build walk breaks into their curriculum.
According to the golden rule of workplace productivity, you should work for 52 minutes, then take a 17-minute break for maximum efficiency. Use this time to stroll around the block and chat with your child about their studies.
4. Go to the Park
The virus that causes COVID-19 doesn’t linger indefinitely, especially outdoors. While you should follow proper hygiene, it’s probably okay to take your child to the park.
If you feel uncertain about them having contact with others, get in on the action and play with them. You can get an upper-body workout by traversing the monkey bars and work your quads climbing the sliding board ladder.
5. Buy Active Video Games
Video gaming doesn’t have to be a passive activity. Ever since Wii came out with a line of fitness games, you can find active movement-oriented play for various platforms.
If you don’t have an unlimited game budget, your local library might have versions you can rent for free. Try them before you buy — you might discover that ‘Punch Out’ is one way to relieve pandemic-induced stress.
6. Have Everyone Do Their Share
Do you give your kids pocket money because it’s the thing to do – without tying it to their effort? If so, consider creating a chores version where you pay them for each task they complete? For example, picking up their toys might net $.50 while scrubbing the bathroom results in a $5 reward.
When you have kids complete chores for cash, you teach them the value of a dollar. You also encourage them to get moving if they want to earn more.
7. Start Your Spring Gardening
If you got in on the gardening craze during lockdown, make sure you maintain the momentum to upkeep your garden, and keep active at the same time. It’s also a good time to sneak in some spring planting.
Raking out beds, composting old plants and planting new ones can elevate your child’s heart rate and get them burning calories.
8. Limit Their Screen Time
It can prove challenging to limit screen time, especially if your child studies from home. However, you should still specify device-free zones and times.
It’s okay to let your kids get bored. If they whine when you tell them to power down the tablet, don’t automatically suggest another structured activity. Using their imagination will help them to develop their creativity.
9. Sign Them Up for Clubs
Even if your school did away with in-person sports and extracurricular activities, you could find some in your community. You can even find online book clubs for the budding bookworm who can’t get enough Nancy Drew mysteries.
The best part – you can let your child take the reins. Enroll them in activities they love, like martial arts. Not everyone wants to play football or field hockey.
The pandemic hasn’t only been challenging for adults. Kids, too, feel the pressure and endure psychological angst. Volunteering can improve your child’s mental health by releasing neurotransmitters like serotonin and oxytocin that make them feel more positive.
If your landlord won’t allow pets, but your kids go gaga for puppies, sign up for a shift at the local animal shelter. If they care about the planet, why not adopt a stretch of highway to keep clean?
Encourage Your Kids to Be More Active With These Smart Tips
As a parent, you can do your part to combat childhood obesity. Encourage your kids to be more active and you’ll see the results.
How do you keep your kids active? Tell us in the comments below.