Parks and cul-de-sacs used to be filled with children jumping rope, playing tag and enjoying the last few hours of waning sunlight before being forcibly hauled inside for dinner. But thanks to technology, kids are spending more time inside staring at screens – a habit which has contributed to a staggering increase in childhood obesity.
In 2008, more than one-third of children and adolescents were considered overweight. Want to keep your kids from becoming part of this statistic? Get ’em off the couch!
Here are some tips for encouraging your children to get active:
1. Be a role model. The workday is long, and sometimes you just want to come home and veg on the couch. But think about how your actions influence your kids – if they see you making time to exercise (and having fun while doing it), they’ll be more likely to follow. Walk your little ones to the nearest park, or challenge the neighbors to a friendly game of family kickball.
2. Set screen limits. Limiting the amount of time your kids spend on the computer or in front of the TV is a great way to encourage them to go outside. “I’m bored!” can turn into “Let’s play basketball!” If your child or teen is glued to their video games, look for ones that require exercise and movement – such as dancing.
3. Don’t force sports. Organized sports are a great way to promote regular exercise, but let your kids pick and choose the activities they’re most interested in. If your laid-back son isn’t keen on soccer, he might be more inclined to go on quiet nature hikes or try his hand at yoga. (Yes, boys can do yoga, too!)
4. Encourage healthy habits. In addition to physical activity, get your kids on board with other positive lifestyle habits – such as healthy eating and adequate sleep. Check out these previous posts on packing healthy lunches and cooking healthy meals with your kids.