When your kids are running around the house, screaming at the top of their lungs and pulling out every toy they have ever owned, you might like nothing more than for them to sit quietly for a few moments. But, as they get older you might notice that they aren’t as active anymore. On average, children spend seven and a half hours per day watching television or using a computer, tablet, or another device with a screen. Children between the ages of six and seventeen need at least 60 minutes each day of physical activity each day in order to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of depression and anxiety. Physical activity also helps children to build strong bones and muscles and to establish a lifetime of healthy habits.
As kids get older, they have more schoolwork and other responsibilities. Plus, spending time with friends and activities such as video games may make it more difficult for them to squeeze in physical activities. Most schools include physical education classes in the curriculum, but they often are not enough to meet student’s needs. Plus, children aren’t likely to be very motivated about sit-ups and pushups. All this means that parents may need to get a bit creative in encouraging children to be active. If you are looking for ways to encourage your kids to be more physically active, try these tips and tricks.
Teach them to swim: Swimming is a healthy activity that tones muscles, builds endurance, improves cardiovascular fitness, and provides a full-body workout. Even better, swimming is fun, which makes it a sneaky way to get kids active. Teaching kids to swim also helps them learn water safety. Enrolling children in swimming lessons is a good start. But, installing above ground pools at home will encourage them to practice their skills while splashing around and getting in their hour of physical activity.
Adopt a dog: Bringing a pet into the home comes with plenty of new responsibilities, but having a dog also has important benefits for children. At the top of the list of reasons to adopt a puppy is the built-in opportunities for physical activities. Walking the family pet will not only help kids stay active but also teach them about responsibility and caring for someone else. Plus, having a dog will encourage outdoor play, including activities like fetch.
Let them play sports: Even if you never pictured yourself as a softball mom or a football dad, sports clubs are a fun way for kids to stay active while also learning about teamwork. The key is to let young kids sample an array of sports so they can find one that suits their personality. While softball and soccer are popular options, don’t overlook other options. Golf, cheerleading, kayaking, lacrosse, dance, and karate are all healthy activities that many young people enjoy.
Take up hiking: Hiking is the perfect active family activity. You can start hiking at any age, you don’t need much special equipment and it is an inexpensive way to get the whole family moving. Start by looking up trails at your local parks and start with easy walks. Try to choose hikes that have interesting sites, like waterfalls or streams, that will keep kids interested and motivated. You can also add an extra element by taking along a few trash bags and cleaning up the trail as you go.
Lead by example: One of the best ways to encourage kids to be physically active is to stay active yourself. Kids naturally want to participant in what parents are doing, and seeing you maintain an active lifestyle will teach them to do the same.