Children should be playing outside and that should be enough, right? Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world, where lively toddlers automatically turn into active children who become dynamic teenagers and adults.
While schools have team sports and we support and encourage our children to take part, watch all their games and ferry them to and fro practice sessions–not all kids are drawn to organized team sports, and even if they participate it’s not always effective in kindling a love for an active lifestyle.
So how can you help your kids maintain a healthy level of activity throughout life?
As many kids spend an increasing amounts of time in front of technology our role as parents to help kids foster an appreciation for activity becomes that much more important. Starting by setting a great example and helping them to develop a taste for life outside the sphere of virtual reality.
We’re exploring ways and activities that can instill the value of an active lifestyle. – and as always, before starting a new program with your children, make sure that all health concerns are addressed professionally before you continue.
Approaching this topic from a parental perspective will encourage you to put aside valuable time in pursuit of worthwhile results.
Because more activity means….
- Improved quality of sleep; and if your children sleep better there is less chance of unnecessary moodiness, which means you end up more relaxed as well!
- Builds and maintains bone strength, joint health and muscle mobility. This means less chance of injury, cutting down on possible trips to the Doctor.
- Active children are less likely to get depressed. Exercise reduces anxious strain, which will help our increasingly pressured teens
- to cope better. Happier teenagers? Maybe only marginally, but happier nonetheless!
- Improved academic performance is a huge benefit which needs no explanation.
- Healthy body weight and possible prevention of chronic diseases later in life means as a parent, you contributed towards a solution for the growing pandemic of obesity and related illness.
Talk about return on investment!
Some advice to get you started
- Plan on fun activities instead of ‘exercise sessions’. If it is something that everyone will enjoy, they will less likely try finding excuses. For instance, if everyone loves swimming, plan weekly family pool games or trips to the community pool.
- Time it to suit everyone - Remember everyone’s needs. (Think no tired after work parents, or sleepy-eyed early morning kids!)
- Introduce a healthy sense of competition and goal reaching, by creating a points system of some sort. Track progress, but keep it balanced.
- Mix it up - don’t just stick to one exercise. This way it’s less likely to get boring and fall by the wayside.
- Give the children a choice in the matter - let them put a few suggestions on the table and consider everything. Don’t reject ideas, rather find fun ways to add the best suggestions from all in a way that everyone may benefit and get to enjoy it.
- You will notice when there is something particular your children start enjoying, then you can start narrowing down the regular activities, encourage, motivate and support their newfound love.
- Charity fun-walks will not only be for a good cause in general, but also develop a sense of social responsibility in your family life.
- Invite friends over for a water balloon fight (True, this will get messy!) or other backyard games.
- Get into nature and focus on something specific - collecting plant life, birdwatching or collecting insects in containers that will allow all to inspect and then release.
- Organize a neighborhood game that includes children of all ages and their parents.
- Create an obstacle course and make a competition of it - with prizes of course.
- Freeze dance - dance until the music stops and those that don’t freeze are out! Or just have dance sessions for the fun of it.
- Youtube has quite a variety of short, fun exercise videos, ranging from dancing to stretching, and everything in between. Check out this fun video for smaller children - Join them!
With all things, consistency is key. We know our Thrive parents are already doing their part in raising functional children with a positive view on an active lifestyle, therefore feel free to add your advice in the comment section below!