These days the majority of children spend too much of their time either playing video games, surfing the internet, or watching television. To make matters worse, they often consume a good deal of junk food during these activities.
The result of this is that more and more kids these days are becoming obese and at risk of contracting high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. To fight this problem, parents need to encourage and motivate their children to exercise.
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Benefits of Exercise
Parents should begin by explaining the benefits of exercise to their children. A child who understands why it is important for them to exercise will be more inclined to do so than one who does not. There are several benefits of exercise for children.
These benefits include:
- Children who regularly exercise and participate in sports are more inclined to keep on exercising when they become adults.
- Exercise assists children in reaching and maintaining healthy weights.
- Regular exercise is important in building and maintaining strong and healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
- Exercise, such as team sports, is key in the development of interpersonal skills like team building.
- Studies show that children who exercise regularly have better school attendance and perform better academically.
- Regular exercise provides higher self-esteem, improved self-image, and greater confidence.
- Regular exercise delays or prevents the development of several chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease.
- Active children experience fewer depression and anxiety symptoms.
- Exercise helps in the development of motor skills.
Motivating Your Child to Exercise
In 2008, The National Center for Health Statistics stated that more than one-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Promoting exercise in a child’s life is one of the best methods to fight obesity and aid them in leading a healthy lifestyle.
A mere sixty minutes of daily exercise can help maintain weight or shed excess pounds. Increased energy will be enjoyed as well.
There are numerous benefits and reasons why children should exercise. So how do you encourage your child to exercise? There are three key things to remember:
- Choose age-appropriate activities – Children could become frustrated or bored if the activity is not geared for their age group.
- Allow ample opportunities for your children to be active – Provide play equipment for your children and/or take them to playgrounds.
- Keep the activities fun – When a child does not enjoy an activity, they will not do it.
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Age Appropriate Activities
There is no better way for children to obtain exercise than to incorporate it into their daily lives. Children of all ages should get at least an hour of exercise daily.
This may include physical playtime at school, participation in sports, or even free playtime at home. As stated earlier, finding age-appropriate activities is important. Here are some examples:
At this age, children are in need of activities that aid in the development of motor skills. Some good activities for this include: playing follow the leader, tag, jumping on one foot, bike riding, or navigating their way through an obstacle course.
– School Age
At this age, it is important to help the child find physical activities that they like and feel they are a success at. This could include anything from sports such as basketball or soccer to activities such as camping, hiking, or scouting.
There are many options for teens. School sports are an option, as are things such as skateboarding or aerobics classes. At this stage in a child’s life, it is vital to remember that exercise often needs to be scheduled in among other commitments and responsibilities.
Make it easier for your teen to exercise by providing a ride when required or proper equipment and/or workout clothes. Sometimes, having the right shoes or clothing might give an awkward teen the confidence to go biking or to the gym.
Fitness Personalities of Children
A child’s fitness personality should be taken into consideration. Genetics, athletic ability, and personality traits all have an impact on a child’s attitude toward sports participation and other types of exercise. This is especially true as children grow older.
There are three fitness personality types:
- The Non-Athlete – Lacks athletic ability and has little to no interest in physical activities.
- Casual Athlete – Shows interest in physical activity but is not a skilled player, can be easily discouraged in competitive physical activities.
- Athlete – Has athletic talent, often shows commitment to an activity or sport.
Recognizing your child’s fitness personality will help you find the right activities for them and keep them active. Regardless of their personality, all children can be fit and physically active.
Positive attitudes from parents will go a long way in encouraging children to exercise.
More Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Exercise
If you are still not sure how to motivate your child to exercise, here are several tips:
- Provide a Good Example – In order to excite your children about exercise, you must be excited. Go out and be active. Children learn by example.
- Exercise With Your Children – A great way to increase the overall health of the family is to exercise together. Motivation has to come from the parents through example. Family physical activities should be scheduled regularly.
- Turn the Television and Video Games Off – Sadly, by the time they graduate from high school, the majority of children will have spent more time playing video games than in school. Set limits on television and video game time for children and be sure to enforce those limits.
- Make It a Group Activity – Allow and encourage your children to invite a friend to join in on physical activities. Often having a friend along makes the activity more enjoyable for the child.
- Reward Your Children for Exercising – Rewards may include a trip to the child’s favorite amusement park, new sports equipment, a new iPod to listen to while exercising, etc.
- Plan Active Activities That Do Not Seem Like Exercise – Walking the dog is a good activity. A trip to a nature center or the zoo could also count as exercise because of the vast amount of walking involved.
- Provide the Proper Nutrition – If your children do not get adequate vitamins and nutrition from their diet, they will not have the energy to exercise. Find healthy supplements for yourself and your kids!
Help Your Children Live Long, Healthy Lives
Regular exercise results in strong bones and muscles, decreased risk of developing diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, improved sleep, good weight management, and a more positive outlook on life.
Furthermore, healthy children are an asset both to their family and society.
For children to be healthy, proper nutrition and regular exercise are essential. Regular exercise, along with proper learning and nutrition, will help to ensure that your child grows up to be a healthy and disciplined adult.
Lead by Example
If it is your goal to encourage your children to exercise more, make sure that you also maintain a physically active and healthy lifestyle. If you don’t feel you are setting the proper example, then start a workout plan and allow your children to see your hard work and dedication pay off!
A good and positive attitude from the parents toward exercise will help to instill a desire for exercise in the children.
Stay active and be sure to support your children’s interests. If you begin these habits when your children are very young, they will come to think of exercise as fun and a normal part of daily life.
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