In today’s world of technology that keeps getting more advanced and integrated into society, it’s easy to see why kids and adults alike are having a harder time getting fit. Especially when you consider the rising trend of childhood obesity, it’s become increasingly more important to provide a foundation for the fitness of your children.
So, where do you start? It seems like everything in the world encourages your children not to exercise in any way, shape or form. With so much opposition against fitness and exercising, how can parents ever hope to get started? Let’s take a look at what you can do.
Be an Example
Before you can even approach the topic of fitness with your kids, you have to set a good example first, like you do in many other situations. If we want our kids to behave properly in public, we too should behave properly in public. Show your kids how much you love to exercise and explain to them why you do it. If they see how much you love exercise, it’s likely that they’ll want to follow along with what you’re doing.
Don’t wait until your kids are older to start teaching them about fitness. Many parents are worried that they’ll inadvertently stunt their children’s growth by having them exercise too young. While that may be true in extreme cases, like heavy weightlifting, it doesn’t apply for most situations. Have you ever seen those videos of toddlers practicing yoga with their moms? Instilling that love for exercise at a young age can create lifelong habits for your children.
Create Age-Appropriate Activities
While it’s important to start your kids on fitness at a young age, it’s still important that you are only having them participate in age-appropriate activities. Too much forced physical activity can create exhaustion and stress, and you don’t want that. Consider these recommendations and suggestions broken up by age group:
- Ages 2-3: Doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of structured and supervised physical activity and at least an hour of unstructured physical activity, or free play. Some ideas for this age group include dancing, imitating animal movements and basic stretches like bending to touch your toes. Makes these activities fun and engaging so your kids stay focused.
- Ages 4-5: Doctors recommend an hour of structured physical activity and an hour of unstructured physical activity. At this age, children are becoming more coordinated. Try to encourage activities that account for that more mature coordination, such as hopping, skipping and balancing. You may even be able to introduce organized sports so your kids can start learning how to catch and throw a ball, among other activities.
- Ages 6-12: Doctors recommend at least one hour or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day for this age group. Kids in this age range should also experience several bursts of exercises throughout the day that last for around 15 minutes. As your children age, their ability to be active increases. Build physical activity into your family’s routine, such as nightly walks or trips to the park. You should still encourage free play, as kids will have more fun being active when left to their own creative ideas.
- Ages 13-18: Teenagers tend to be harder to motivate when it comes to fitness. On top of that, most schools have stopped requiring participation in physical education classes. Try to encourage fitness through activities your kids enjoy, such as skateboarding or swimming. If they’re up to it, you can even enroll your kids in local gyms and fitness classes.
The Result is Worth the Effort
In the end, it may feel like pulling teeth to get your kids to care about their physical health—especially if they’re teenagers—but the result is worth the effort. Kids who get their recommended amount of physical activity tend to have more energy and better moods throughout the day, on top of a healthier lifestyle with fewer health problems.
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