We are continuing our series on raising healthy kids and today’s focus is on getting active with your children. In a world filled with video games and TV, kids nowadays aren’t spending nearly as much time outside running around playing Kick the Can (do our kids even KNOW what that is?) or organizing a neighborhood game of kickball.
Regular exercise for children is so important and has so very many benefits. Children + Exercise = Helps children maintain a healthy weight. That’s the obvious one, right? We all know that. But did you know:
- Regular movement enhances a child’s overall health, as well as his mood and self-image. Think about it. How do YOU feel after exercise? Not only does exercise improve cardiovascular fitness, endurance, and muscle strength, it also enhances your mood and self-esteem!
- Being physically active can enhance thinking abilities and help kids perform better in school. In a recent study of more than 1,800 kids in 4th-8th grades, researchers at Harvard Medical School found that kids who passed numerous fitness tests were more likely to score well on measures of academic achievement in English and math.
How much exercise should you child be getting? The latest guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children aged 6-17 should be getting 60 minutes of moderate- or vigorous-intensity physical activity each day. It doesn’t have to be continuous, non-stop activity; it can be done throughout the day in intervals of 15 minutes or longer.
Sometimes it just seems like there is not enough time in the day to get every thing done, so how on Earth are you going to help your kids get active? Trust me, I know sometimes it’s just easier to throw on an episode of Spongebob Squarepants to keep the kids busy while I check out Twitter and Facebook get things done. But, the truth is, there are MANY ways to incorporate physical activity into your children’s schedules.
- Walking is easy. And FREE.
- Join a kid-friendly gym.
- Visit a local park. The opportunities for physical activity at parks is endless!
- Get a dog. Dogs need to be walked. End of story.
- Encourage your children to get involved in sports! Soccer, dance, karate, basketball… anything goes!
- Walk with them to school.
- Take lessons together as a family. Always wanted to learn how to play tennis or surf? Perfect!
- Go on a family bike ride.
- Teach your kids the awesome games YOU used to play as a child. Better yet, get the neighborhood kids involved, too!
One of the best things you can do to teach your children healthy, active habits is to be a good role model yourself. I will never forget this past Mother’s Day when I was doing interviews with my four children for my blog and asked the question, “What makes you proud of your Mom?” There answers ALL had to do with my running and training for my 1/2 marathon. I was simply blown away. My kids have even taken to doing 5K races themselves! The twins joined me in a charity 5K last month and I couldn’t have been more proud of them! The look on their faces as they crossed the finish line was priceless.
And this story that Kirsten shared with me last year? It just goes to show that teaching children to be active at a young age can positively impact the rest of their lives:
I started running when I was about 5. My dad would come home from work in the evening and go for a run. I wanted to run too. So one night he took me for a little jog. That jog progressed into a loop that I think was about a mile. My first race was a 5-mile run. My dad ran the whole way with me. Well, I use the term “run” loosely as I’m sure my pace was sickening slow. I have no idea of my time. I was the last person to cross the finish line, but the sense of accomplishment to actually finish a race? My heart swelled with joy and pride. During the run my dad had actually asked me on multiple occasions whether or not I wanted to hitch a ride/call it quits/etc. Every time he asked, I said “no” and kept running.
Fast forward 8-10 years. Running has always been my go-to sport. In junior high when I wanted to join a team, I joined cross country and then track. In the teen years when I felt all teen-girl-drama-ish I would for a mile or two run in the evening.
Running has always left me feeling used, in a good way. It’s my own personal therapy.
I want you to think about these questions (feel free to blog about it and link up in the comments):
- What are some things you can do in your personal family to get active with your children?
- What is something new you can try this week? This month?
- Do you need to set a limit on the amount of time your children can watch TV or play video games?
- In what ways are you setting a good example for your children?
- Do your children hear you speak of being active and exercising in a positive manner?
I can’t wait to hear your answers! Now get up, grab the kids, and GET MOVING!
Weight Watchers provided all of us at the Sisterhood copies of Eat! Move! Play! for the purpose of review. We were not compensated in any way, and as always, our opinions are our own, yo! Also, if you click that link and buy the book through our Amazon store, we’ll earn about $.04. Tell all your friends!