How to Keep Your Kids Outdoors, Active & Healthy
Parenting has never and will never be an easy task. Every end of school year can be quite unsettling for most parents. Unlike when kids are in school and are forced to be active through extra-curricular activities, the situation gets different when they come home. Between TV shows and PlayStations, it can be nerve wrecking trying to get your kid outdoors, active and healthy. However, with the increased cases of lifestyle diseases even among children, it’s up to you the parent to get more involved in your kid’s life and ensure that they are living a healthy lifestyle.
Research shows that obesity in children has over the years doubled and tripled in most adolescents. An overweight child is at a high risk of getting Type 2 diabetes, several types of cancer, heart attack and too much cholesterol in their body. Exercising is a good way to ensure that your child doesn’t become obese as the outcome could be very costly. In addition, physical activities can help minimize the risk of getting the said lifestyle diseases. Although getting your child out of the house can be quite the task, there are activities that parents can get involved in to make the activities more fun.
Teaching your children to exercise at an early age helps them establish a routine that will be beneficial to their everyday life even as they grow up. Besides helping improve your little one’s quality of life, exercising can have both long-term and short-term health benefits.
Benefits of Physical Activity to Your Child
Encouraging your child to engage in a physical activity for a few minutes each day has immense value. Some of the benefits include:
- Growth of strong muscles and bones
Your child’s bones and muscles need to develop fully. This can’t be achieved without any exercise whatsoever. Exercising the joints helps prevent soreness and unnecessary pain.
- Anti-social behaviour
We live in a world where technology has taken over. Use of phones and tablets to communicate has become the norm. Our children learn from us and as we focus more and more time on our phones, they begin doing the same.
They become less and less social and eventually getting through to them becomes hard. Spending quality time with your children outdoors can help reduce this.
- Developing mortar skills
Your child’s ability to grasp things is crucial in their growth. Getting them building blocks and other toys that enable them to move their hands is crucial. The much older children can be involved in football games or little jogging exercises.
- Emotional well-being
Physical activities contribute a lot to your child’s emotional stability. The two are connected. After exercising, we tend to feel much more relaxed. This makes us less anxious hence reducing the chances of getting depressed or fear. This in turn helps your child become more confident, sleep better, boost their self-esteem and ability to express themselves better.
- Positive attitude at school
Children who are confident and have self-esteem tend to have few disciplinary cases in school.
- Social skills
Socializing is an important aspect of our children’s growth. Besides having immediate results, it also helps your child develop their socializing skills that can come in handy as they mature. Most importantly, it helps develop skills such as teamwork, collaboration and cooperation. This is a great way for them to interact and meet new people, form lasting friendships and learn about different cultures.
What Can Parents Do to Keep Their Children Active?
About 1 out of 3 children take part in a physical activity every day. What is even more worrying is that on average, children and teenagers spend 7 hours or more on electronic devices such as phones, laptops, TVs and other devices for entertainment purposes.
Statistics show that in the United States alone, 1 out of every 3 children are either obese or overweight. Research also shows that overweight teenagers are 70% more likely to become obese in their adulthood.
Of course, these statistics should raise an alarm to any parent. The good news is that all these problems can be avoided with a little exercise. Below are some of the things that parents can do to ensure their children are active:
- Talk to your child
It’s important for parents to ensure that they talk to their children about the importance of physical activities. This helps give them a better understanding on why exercise is important for them. If you are unable to, you can consult an expert or family doctor to help.
- Fun activity
Help your child find a fun sport or activity that they can engage in either on a daily basis or a few times a week. With each passing time they spend on it, the more they are likely to fall in love with it and keep it up. Remember, it takes about 21 days to form a habit and make it a routine.
- Choice of activities
Although most physical activities will keep your child active, it’s important to choose activities that are age appropriate. Soccer, swimming or cycling are appropriate for a child aged five or 10 years. However, lifting weights or running a 10-kilometer race is stretching the whole exercise thing.
- Minimize time spent on TV and other electronic devices
PlayStation 4, car racing games on phones and tablets and cartoons take a bigger chunk of the schedules of some of our children. Limiting or restricting time spent watching TV or playing games can help your kid get more time to engage in physical activities. Allowing a maximum of 2 hours screen time on both computers, TV and video games I recommended by The American Academy of Paediatrics.
- Create time for physical activities
Between school and time spent at home, most children barely have time to engage in anything due to homework and other programmes that their parents enroll them in. Of course, it’s not a bad thing but there should be time allocated to exercising.
Ensure that the environment and equipment your child is using is safe. They should also have appropriate exercise clothing.
- Role model
As parents, we are our children’s first role models. Most kids do what they see their parents do. If your kid sees you enjoying a physical activity, they will want to join in.
- Make time to play
Parents can make time for their kid and help them learn a new game or sport. When exercising with your children, remember to take it easy on them and not over do it. They are only but kids and there are bound to get tired easily.
Physical Activities That Your Child Can Engage In
As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of activities that your child can engage in. However, even as you choose them, you need to make sure they are appropriate for your kid. Ensure that your kid is also supervised so that no harm comes their way.
The below questions can guide your choice of sport:
- What’s the age of your child?
- How is their schedule?
- What activity should you pick?
Being able to answer each of the above questions will help you find suitable activities for your kids. Moreover, you can consult with friends, family members or your doctor to get them to recommend the right activities for you. Have it in mind that your son’s or daughter’s age is vital in all this. Consider the below:
Age 5 and below: the key thing for this age group is to get them outdoors exploring their creativity and away from the TV or computer screens. At their age, they are more active and always looking for opportunities to climb, run and move around. Role play is also an important aspect for these toddlers. Engage them in some activities around the home that will allow them to explore. Buy them toys that require creativity. A good example is building stacks.
5 to 12-year old’s: kids this age are mostly interested in outdoor activities. They want to learn a new sport, play a game of hide and seek or simply a competitive tag of war game. Children this age should be left to explore and learn on their own. If need be, let them be part of the decision making on the kind of physical activities they want to engage in.
12 years and above: children this age are aware of what activities they want to be involved in. if your child is in this age bracket, it’s advisable to let them make their own decision. If they do, show interest and support them as their parent. Occasionally, create time and join them and make their activity more fun. Whether they choose to cycle to and from school or walk.
Here are a few exercise activities that you can consider:
Walking is one of the ways you can keep your child active and healthy. Smartphones can nowadays allow you to track the steps taken in any given day. If your kid’s school isn’t far, you can suggest walking with them to school and picking them up after the school day ends.
Alternatively, you can also spare time out of your schedules and take evening or early morning walks. Walking helps them to navigate their surrounding easily and get directions.
Jogging is a simple and easy way to keep fit. Besides, it’s also good exercise for your heart which helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and high blood pressure. Jogging can also ensure you get better sleep at night and reduce your stress levels.
If your child loves nature and outdoor activities, bike riding can be one of the ways to keep them outside. Invest in a good bike and teach them how to ride. You will also need to invest in safety gears and apparels.
Cycling with family or friends competitively can be fun thus making it even more interesting for them.
- Hide and seek
Children love to play and run around. A game of hide and seek is a sure way to keep them active. It can be played both indoors and outdoors with space of course permitting. If your children opt to play indoors, make sure that it’s safe and they won’t get hurt from falls.
A good way to ensure your kid enjoys the morning run is joining them. running has immense benefits. From maintaining a healthy weight to improving your cardiovascular fitness. Your child will not only benefit from this but in the development of strong bones and muscles.
- Visiting parks
The thing about parks is that they have plenty of facilities that children can play in comfortably. From swings, seesaws, to sport arenas for different sports. The amenities allow your children to have fun while at the same time engaging in a physical activity.
Water can be so much fun for young children. Teaching your children to swim from a young age can offer them an amazing opportunity to enjoy themselves most especially during summer. Additionally, swimming helps them keep fit and maintain a healthy weight. When your kids are out swimming, always ensure they have an adult supervising them.
As kids continue to grow, there is need to keep them more active. Kids who send most of their time in front of screens miss quite a lot. Also, some skills can only be developed with some physical activities. As parents, we owe it to our kids to ensure they grow up healthy. Besides, physical activities have immense benefits that cannot be ignored no matter what.
Bottom line, as a parent you need to be active yourself and lead as an example for your child. Encourage your child even when they feel like they want to give up. Congratulate them if they achieve their set targets for the day. Whether it’s through the miles covered in a jogging or running exercise or the chores done in the house. Find an activity that you can engage in with your child. Most importantly, always encourage your children to play outdoors. Whenever your child takes part in any school exercise activity, be there and show them your support. Take up any of the exercise activities suggested or better yet, find one that suits your child.
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