We all want to see our children grow up and succeed. Sometimes success involves lending a helping hand when it comes to academics, social etiquette, and fitness. In consideration of the latter, did you know that less than 1 in 3 children maintain daily physical activeness? If that’s not a startling figure, consider this: teenagers and children collectively spend over 6-7 hours every day consuming media via television, computer, phone, or tablet rather than engaging in physical activity. These habits likely factor into the statistical data showing that 1/3 of children in the United States are overweight. Consequently, those who are overweight throughout their adolescence will likely become obese once they reach adulthood.
Needless to say, these are sobering figures. However, before you get discouraged, realize there is something you can do to help prevent such an unfortunate occurrence. Parents are one of the key deterrents to childhood obesity. By helping them become more physically active, you can save them from becoming another negative statistic. To provide some ideas on how to accomplish this, here is a brief list expounding on five ways to encourage your child to be physically active.
1. Serve as the Example
Remember, perception is important. Prioritizing exercise will make you a much better role model for your children. Credible studies show that children with active parents are more likely to be active themselves. Additionally, the more you convey the importance of exercise to your children, the more it will influence their understanding of themselves and the world around them. But rather than simply teaching them, show them that you are able to practice what you preach. This could involve maintaining a personal workout routine, or developing a routine for your children that you can also participate in. Better yet, if you have a spouse and other children, you can exercise as a family.
2. Outside Beats Inside
Children will naturally become more active simply by virtue of being outside. Many studies have concluded that children who are outdoors more frequently have reduced chances of becoming overweight compared to their inactive counterparts. Additionally, the outdoor environment your child occupies can significantly impact their proclivity towards exercise. For example, many studies have demonstrated that children who consistently spend time in lush outdoor areas tend to be much more active than children who spend their time elsewhere. This information makes your physical participation much easier: take your children to the park and run on the grass, or play a variety of other games in similarly spacious areas.
3. Dogs Encourage Physical Activity
The benefits of adding a canine friend to your home are twofold: one the one hand, your child has a new pet; on the other, they have an avenue for more exercise. In addition to teaching your child a valuable lesson in responsibility, having a four-legged companion will also encourage daily exercise. What’s more, studies indicate that children with dogs are more likely to be physically active. If you do decide to purchase a dog, make sure to adopt from a shelter and find a breed that is more inclined towards exercise, such as a Husky or Australian/ German Shepherd.
4. Encourage Outdoor Activities with Friends
Children who spend more time with their friends tend to be more physically active than those who are constantly alone. Again, many peer-reviewed studies support this notion. You may be using yourself how you could possibly help your child with friends. Fear not, you do not have to help them make new friends, just arrange activities with those they already have. These activities could be sports-related or simply random, as long as they involve physical exertion. Additionally, you could purchase some kind of kids fitness tracker that will provide with visual data pertaining to their exercise habits.
Obviously, participating in some type of sport encourages physical activity. Consequently, signing them up and encouraging them to continue with sports-related activity is an excellent means of assuaging them to be physically active. Just think about it: you child will be working up a sweat at practice in preparation for a game before hitting the field on game day with an almost surgical precision. Again, the science says it all: many studies indicate that children who participate in sports-related activity are at a much lower risk of becoming obese compared to those who do not. This is because, in addition to physical exertion, a sport encourages them to spend time outside with friends. Plus, your participation in their activities will only encourage them to pursue them to the fullest extent. As you can probably see, participating in sports encapsulates many of the previous recommendations in a single activity!