Keep Your Kid Fit Year Round
With childhood obesity on the rise, more and more parents are looking for ways to keep their kids active and fit. The process starts at home with fridges and pantries that are devoid of the fat- and sugar-laden, processed foods that populate store shelves these days. Instead, parents must work a little harder to provide the nutritious and balanced meals that will give kids the energy they need to face each day without the spike and crash that comes from soda and sugary snacks.
But of course, diet is only part of the equation when it comes to the health of your kids. You also need to get them outdoors and running around if you want them to remain active and fit throughout their childhood and beyond. So here are just a few ways to pry them away from their video games and social media and get them on track for some physical fun.
- Schedule outdoor play time.It seems like plenty of parents these days keep a highly regimented schedule of activities for their kids, including not only school and homework time, but also play dates and extracurricular activities. Some children have such packed schedules that even their break times are penciled in and timed to the minute. Yikes!If this is the case with your child, make sure that you block out some time for play that includes getting outdoors and engaging in some physical activity. If you let them have their druthers they might spend all day texting their friends or playing video games. Instead, take their electronics, shove them outside, and see what happens.
- Engage in family fitness.If you’ve never forced your children to be active, they might not be particularly inclined to start on their own. In this case, you have the opportunity to lead by example and teach your kids a valuable lesson. By engaging in fitness activities with your kids, such as kicking around a soccer ball, walking to the park to play on the jungle gym, or swimming at the local pool, you can show them that fitness is fun. As a bonus, you’ll get to spend some quality time with your kids and the whole family can get healthier together.
- Hike and bike instead of driving.Most harried parents rely on their cars to make their daily life more expedient. But if you want to make health and fitness a priority in your family, consider leaving the car at home when you run local errands. Instead, walk to your destinations or haul bikes out of the garage for outings to the grocery store or farmers market, the movie theater, or even your kids’ after school activities. If you want to give the kids a treat buy or find them some hiking sticks to fiddle around with on their walk.
- Try out sports leagues.Kids may be more inclined to participate in physical fitness if their friends are involved, so think about signing them up for area sports leagues. This could include activities like softball, football, basketball, and hockey, or you might enroll them in swimming lessons or gymnastics classes at your local YMCA. Dance classes are also an option. There is no shortage of activities for your kids to try, so while it may take a while to find ones that suit each child, eventually you should get all of them enrolled in something they like.
- Reward active behavior.There is no doubt something your kids prefer to fitness activities. They may be bookworms or social butterflies, or they might like to spend their time watching TV. In this case you can use their preferred pursuits as dangling carrots. If they want to watch a show, for example, they’ll have to spend some time in the play yard first. Or if they agree to take swimming lessons they can have a sleepover with friends or get a cell phone for texting purposes. Of course you want them to enjoy fitness, and over time they might learn to. But in the beginning you may have to tempt them, and non-food rewards are the way to go.