Kids are active creatures, but not always! Thanks to social media and video games, many children now prefer a sedentary lifestyle. This has enormous implications for child health. For instance, 18.5% of youth were obese in 2015–2016.
This trend may have you worried about your own children’s health. And it might even have you reconsidering your own lifestyle. To help encourage both your kids and you to get more active, consider the following suggestions.
Sign Them Up for Programs that Emphasize Fun, Fitness, and Friendships
Active, fun, and social after-school programs are a win-win. As a busy mama, you can have time to yourself while your kids are safely engaged elsewhere. Meanwhile, your kids have the opportunity to be active, explore, learn, and form friendships. And no, they’re not limited to sports teams.
- A program like Scouts can allow kids to explore nature and learn handy, resourceful skills. Such a program also promotes leadership and healthy relationships, so it may be good for shy kids.
- Academically-minded kids may enjoy a science program that explores the biology of the local ecosystem.
- Artsy kids can join a program that encourages exploring landscapes, cityscapes, and architecture.
- Animal-loving kids may want to take up horseback riding or to volunteer at a pet or wildlife rescue center.
- Unconventional sports like canoeing, rock climbing, fencing, or skiing may satisfy a kid’s natural curiosity and sense of adventure.
Now, after-school programs may not be cheap, but do look around your area. Churches, schools, and community centers often offer affordable programs for community members. Allow your kid to explore a diversity of casual programs while they’re young.That way, you know early on what programs to invest in.
Don’t Be Paranoid, but Teach Your Kids Healthy Habits
The fear of being near germs shouldn’t keep your kids from doing other healthy things like playing in the woods. The hygiene hypothesis even suggests that being too clean is causing an increase in allergic disorders. Instead of shielding your kids, teach them healthy habits like:
- Washing their hands after using the bathroom and before eating
- Sneezing into the inside of their elbow instead of their hands
- Avoiding touching noses and mouths
- Staying hydrated throughout the day
To further secure your children’s health, keep their vaccinations current and have them stay at home if they’re sick. If your children have a chronic condition like asthma, speak with your pediatrician for the best ways to remain active. Are the medical costs of their condition hindering your ability to pay for their activities? To make medical costs more affordable, you can buy long-term, regular medications from international and Canadian pharmacy referral services.
Don’t Be Overprotective, but Do Teach Your Kids to Be Safe
Many kids stay indoors and remain sedentary these days because going out is considered unsafe. However, surfing the web all day might actually be more dangerous. Within reason, encourage your kids to go outside and play.
To maximize your peace of mind, teach your kids street smarts like these:
- Tell kids to travel in groups and to look out for each other.
- Instill safe street-crossing habits. Show your kids how to look both ways and make eye contact with drivers.
- Teach kids basic first-aid skills and how to call for help. Remind them to wear helmets when biking or skateboarding. Swimming lessons are also a good survival skill.
- Tell your kids to never get in the car of someone they don’t know. You can also make a code word for the family. This is helpful in an emergency if a stranger (like a police officer) has to pick them up.
When they’re too young to leave by themselves, bring your kids with you on errands to teach them life skills. Show your kids how to cross the street, order and pay at a café, and read the mall directory. Small outings to local places keep both you and your kid on your feet and outside.
What If My Kids Don’t Like Being Active?
- Kids who think they’re bad at sports won’t want to participate in them for fear of embarrassment and judgment.
- Busy parents may not have the time to drive kids to places where they can be active.
- Teens may be stressed by the pressures of achieving and getting into college.
- Some kids just don’t like sports.
So, getting your kids active may mean empowering them, arranging carpooling, and teaching time-management skills. A big motivator for kids to join an activity is if their friends are in it. A friend may also mean you have another parent to divide carpooling duties with!
What If I Don’t Like Exercising Either?
If you’re a parent who wants to encourage your kids to exercise, you have to walk the walk! Parenting is tiring. Many of us would rather relax with a glass of wine than exercise once the kids have gone to bed. Ironically, sweating and moving more can enrich our busy, stressful lives. Here are a few ideas to motivate you:
- Make fitness time your me-time. See fitness as less of a chore and more of a self-care session you treat yourself to.
- Conversely, spend time with your kids doing active, healthy activities. For example, invite them to help cook a healthy dinner. (Reward your kids for helping out!)
- Break your workouts into 10-minute increments throughout the day.
- Remind yourself that exercising can give you more energy and better mental health. Both are tools that will help you through the busy day!
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a kid or an adult, being active is a central part of being healthy. Hopefully, these tips will have you and your family moving more.
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