It’s probably no secret to you that physical activity is crucial to a child’s development and is actually an important part of a healthy lifestyle for people of all ages! But did you know that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported, “less than one-quarter (24%) of children 6 to 17 years of age participated in 60 minutes of physical activity every day,” as recommended by the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Furthermore, “in 2017, only 26.1% of high school students participated in at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity on all 7 days of the previous week.”
The list of benefits of regular physical activity is extensive; it improves cardiorespiratory fitness, the development of the musculoskeletal system, mental health, helps with weight management, as well as decreasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and bone disease. Here is a list of ways to encourage your child to get moving:
1. Sign them up for a sport or class. There are so many great options today for sports clubs and activities, both competitive and recreational! There are traditional team sports such as soccer, basketball, tee ball/baseball among others. Alternatively, if your child isn’t much for sports involving a team or a ball, there are other options including gymnastics, swimming, dance, martial arts, or even a traditional exercise class! Sports leagues and classes are often offered in schools, the local community center, or private gyms. Consider checking out social media platforms to learn more about what is available in your area.
2. Make it a family affair. A great way to get your kids moving more is to do activities as a family. A family walk/hike or bike ride is not only a fun way to spend time as a family, it will also encourage children to join in the activity when they see the rest of the family participating. Or consider playing a family game of tag or dodgeball! Adults and children alike will benefit from getting up and moving!
3. Find out what your local community offers. Many times, your community may sponsor events/activities at a reduced cost or perhaps even free! Guided nature walks, recreational sports leagues, splash parks as well as runs/races are just a few examples. You may be able to call your local community center or find these local offerings online.
4. Keep it simple. If you find it challenging to add another commitment to your family’s already busy schedule, remember that anything that gets your child moving is considered physical activity. Simple activities around the house such as dancing to upbeat music, running through a sprinkler in the backyard in the summertime or even blowing up a balloon and telling the child to keep it from touching the ground are fun ways to entertain your child and get them moving at the same time!
5. Turn the TV… on?! You may think that screentime is the reason you can’t get your child to be active. However, one way of encouraging them to move is by putting on an exercise video or program. Youtube has many exercise videos for children such as Zumba, dance and other age-appropriate exercise routines. You can also purchase movies of exercise programs for kids.
6. Try indoor playgrounds and trampoline parks. If you have ever taken your child to an indoor playground or trampoline park and watched them run around like crazy for an hour straight and still not want to leave, then you know what a great source of physical activity these places can be! The downside is that they can also be somewhat pricey. Be on the lookout for reduced rates for annual memberships or entrance during off-peak times such as weekday mornings.
7. Have your child use activity trackers and apps. Activity trackers and fitness apps are becoming increasingly popular for those wanting to improve their physical fitness. They can also be an excellent way to motivate, especially older children, to be more active.
8. Prizes and competition are great motivators. It is human nature to be competitive. So, enrolling your child in a competition such as a “fun-run” or offering a prize for reaching certain fitness goals is another way to encourage them to engage in physical activities. (Bonus if the prize is fitness related such as a jump rope, running shoes, or maybe a fitness tracker device!)
9. Be creative with gift giving. These days it seems that most children want tech devices for Christmas and birthday gifts. The next time your child’s birthday or Christmas rolls around, be creative and consider giving a gift with physical fitness in mind, such as a bicycle, rollerblades, scooter, trampoline, etc.!
10. Obstacle courses are great forms of activity. You’ve probably seen some of the obstacle course challenges on TV in recent years. These competitions attract a wide range of ages, including young children! Putting in a little obstacle course in your backyard with common objects like old tires, stumps and ropes is an entertaining way to encourage your child to be active. If you don’t have a backyard, there may be a local obstacle course that you can take your child to!
There are many fun and creative ways to help children to get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Get the whole family involved to improve everyone’s physical fitness this summer and have fun doing it!
Check out our related blog article “Hidden treasures at home to help you increase your activity” for ways to increase your physical activity from home!