As a parent or caregiver, it can be tough to juggle various responsibilities. You may struggle to find time to ensure that your children are staying active amidst managing schedules, school work, and extracurricular activities. I know when our days get busy, one of the first things to get skipped is a walk or park outing. However, it’s important to prioritize physical activity and ensure that your children are exercising sufficiently. Here’s why.
Benefits of Keeping Your Kids Active
Physical Health Benefits
Kids’ physical well-being should not be taken for granted! Exercise has tremendous positive effects that can improve and even extend their lives — from strengthening muscles to preventing diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Regular exercise is the key to enjoying a healthier future.
Setting good habits around physical activity and exercise at a young age will help your kids maintain those habits when they are older. (Trust me—I learned this from my mom!)
Mental Health Benefits
Exercise not only helps kids get fit, but it’s essential for maintaining emotional balance. From increased endorphin levels that reduce stress and depression to improved cognition skills, physical activity provides a vast range of mental health benefits. Whether they’re hitting the basketball court or doing a dance workout in the living room, getting moving can help children foster self-confidence while giving them an outlet to let go and feel proud of their accomplishments!
Participating in sports and group fitness activities can give kids the chance to develop essential social skills. Playing side-by-side with peers helps them build strong relationships while learning how to collaborate and communicate effectively. (We spent a lot of time at rugby games reminding our girls to communicate with their team members about being ready to catch the ball.)
These activities also provide families with a wonderful opportunity for bonding through shared experiences that will carry well beyond any scoreboards or finish lines! For example, we’ve recently found a welcoming and supportive community through a local jiu jitsu class.
How to Keep Kids Active
What steps can we take to make sure our children are getting enough exercise, given the importance of physical activity? Here are a few tips:
Make It Fun
To ensure that kids stay active, prioritize making exercise a fun experience. Identify activities that your child likes, such as dancing, playing soccer or practicing gymnastics. Avoid imposing activities that they don’t enjoy as this can make them develop a negative perspective towards exercise. Be open to trying new activities, whether they want to jump into a sport a friend is doing or you decide to take a class together as a family.
It’s also a great idea to have options right in your own backyard to keep your kids active. For example, you can invest in Vuly Play trampolines if your kids are active and love jumping (mine do!). Monkey bars are also a great way to make outdoor play more fun. Many ball sports are easy to play in a backyard or park; I have fond memories of playing catch or baseball with my dad and brothers.
Set an Example
Kids learn best through role modelling, so it’s important that you also remain active and set a good example for your children. As a family, participate in physical activities like riding bicycles or playing games in the backyard. Remember to take occasional breaks during the day to be active as well.
Kids usually respond better to positive reinforcement and praise, so let them know how proud you are when they stay active. Plus, if they see you enjoying physical activities, then it’s more likely that they will, too. My kids know that when my mom comes to visit, we’ll likely be doing some hiking, biking, and canoeing, because Grandma D enjoys those activities (and they have fun doing it with her!).
Goals can help to keep kids motivated and engaged in physical activity. Try setting short-term goals that they can work towards, such as running a certain distance or mastering a new skill. If your child is playing sports, focus on their progress rather than the wins or losses. Celebrate their successes and encourage them to keep going.
To promote the health and well-being of your children, it is crucial to prioritize physical activity. You can guarantee that your kids are receiving enough exercise and enjoying the advantages of being active by following these suggestions!
Incorporate It Into Daily Life
You don’t need to engage in formal physical activities like joining a sports team or gym class. Instead, you can encourage your child to walk or bike to school, use the stairs instead of the elevator, or play outside. Look for opportunities to include physical activity in your everyday routines.
Limit Screen Time
In order to avoid childhood obesity and encourage physical activity, it’s crucial to limit screen time, promote exercise, ensure ample sleep, and provide healthy meals. Too much screen time can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, putting children at risk for health complications.
Limit the use of electronic devices such as tablets and televisions, encouraging your kids to play outside or engage in physical activity instead. You can also get creative and introduce new exercises that your children might find enjoyable.
I use the built-in parental controls on all our devices to help set limits on the kids’ screen time. They know that when their time ends, the device shuts down, and then they go find something else to do.
This year, we also got rid of one computer (which we used mainly as a TV) and switched to a projector and movie screen instead. I’ve found that we watch far fewer movies and TV shows, because now watching a movie involves a bit more set-up. It’s become a fun family evening together, instead of just a go-to when bored.
Do Kids Need to Exercise Every Day?
Children and teenagers should aim to be physically active for at least 60 minutes each day. It’s worth noting that even brief bursts of activity throughout the day can add up to meeting this goal. (They don’t need to be actually running for 60 minutes straight!) Therefore, don’t be concerned if your child is unable to exercise every day. Instead, aim for the recommended total amount of physical activity for the week.
Making sure children stay active is important for their physical, mental, and social health. To develop long-term healthy habits, you can make physical activity fun, integrate it into your daily routine, limit screen time, and set a good example. So, grab a ball, walk, or join a family fitness class — the possibilities are endless!
Photo credit: Depositphotos.