For us Gen-X parents it is hard to imagine what it must be like to grow up these days. If we were lucky we might have had a Commodore 64 or a handheld Nintendo game but there was certainly no internet, no Youtube or Minecraft, or super immersive console games. Getting out and playing in the yard and around the neighbourhood was just what we did.
These days it is very easy today for kids to lead a much more sedentary lifestyle. So it is more important than ever that as parents we encourage healthy exercise habits in our kids, habits that will serve them well in the future.
The more active your kids the greater likelihood they will be more physically active as adults than their more sedentary peers. Here’s a few tips to help encourage your kids into an active lifestyle…
Offer a Variety of Options
Fortunately, there are many many ways to exercise, which provides you with a great opportunity to find one or more that fit your child’s interests.
Perhaps your child loves watching a professional baseball team and would like to try out the sport. Maybe team sports are just not that interesting to them, but joining dance classes or immersing themselves in nature by going on walks or runs would get them excited. Meanwhile, some are natural fish and would love to spend time swimming or at the beach, while others might find they love group fitness classes for kids, such as those pioneered by Les Mills.
Take into consideration your child’s personality and what you believe she might be interested in, make some educated guesses and recommend those options first. However, keep a positive outlook if your kid does not find your first or second options all that enticing as many more possibilities remain. Maybe have him come up with some exercise options that he would like to try out, an act that will also give him more of a sense of ownership over the process and cause him to become much more excited about it.
Keep an open mind as far as what you define as exercise and what you don’t. Dance parties in the living room count. Gardening does as well. So does treasure hunting. Cleaning the house counts too. And you don’t even need to let your kids know that they are in fact exercising when they take part in these activities.
Many of the various ways that your kids could be exercising can easily be done with you as well, and that opportunity to bond can make it a more fun experience. Do your children enjoy going to the park? Walk there together and talk about your days or anything they want to talk about en route. Maybe bring Fido too so that you, your children and your pets can all enjoy these fun activities.
Be a Good Example
If you slouch in front of the television for hours on end, your children will be much more apt to follow suit. Conversely, if you cultivate an active lifestyle yourself or you start doing so, your young ones will also be much more likely to incorporate that into their own lives.
Remove Access to Electronic Screens
Although you do want to be careful and ensure that exercise is viewed as something positive, not something that is being forced upon them and preventing their access to things like video games and television shows. Decreasing screen time is pivotal to having children and adults alike be more active as screen time almost always involves doing something inactive.
Although it may seem like a challenging thing, getting your kids to be more active, fortunately, many ways to do so exist, and these options can be easily incorporated into your lives. Just make sure to keep the big picture in mind as this will likely not be an overnight change and may take some time to fully incorporate into their lives.