Children need to participate in physical activity early on in life to build strength, balance, coordination and confidence. Moreover, it lays the foundation for a healthy lifestyle, which is especially important in an age where younger generations spend more time sedentary and indoors than ever before.
In fact, according to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, only one in three children in the United States exercise on a daily basis. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that a mere 5% of adults spend 30 minutes per day being physically active. It’s clearly important to ensure your child stays active from a young age. Here’s how.
Find What They Enjoy
First and foremost, your child should enjoy whatever it is they’re doing to stay active. Not everyone is drawn to basic sports like running and swimming. There are plenty of other activities that your little one might find more exciting, such as dancing, hiking, cycling or martial arts. Ask them what they want to do and consult with their school for a solution.
Practice What You Preach
Your efforts will likely be to no avail if you aren’t being physically active yourself. As a parent, you are a role model for your child; they follow in your footsteps and mimic your actions, however good or bad they might be. If they see you frequently exercising and having a good time while you’re at it, they too will want to join in on the fun.
It’s also worth noting that this is a great opportunity to spend quality time together. You can go on a family hike, ride bicycles around the neighborhood or have a game of catch.
Invite Some Friends
Most kids will jump off a cliff if their friends did it. So, making exercise a team effort is a great way to get them to participate. Consider picking up one of these group activity kits to make it happen. They contain a range of fun games that enhance interest in physical activity while also providing educational value.
The best type of exercise is enjoyed away from home. Make it a habit to head somewhere different as often as possible, be it the local park, the grandparents’ farm or a nearby hiking trail. These types of locations will keep things interesting and give your child a new environment to explore. There’s also the added benefit of sunlight and fresh air.
Time it Right
If your child finds it difficult to commit to exercise, ask a little less of them. For instance, you can say that they only need to run or ride their bicycle for five minutes.
Chances are that’ll turn into ten or more without them even noticing. Like adults, kids also respond well to a structured schedule. Make a fitness calendar and incentivize commitment by offering rewards for reaching certain goals, such as a five day streak. Using these methods, your child should be fit and healthy in no time. More importantly, they’ll develop a love for exercise and maintain their wellbeing for years to come.