It’s something we all know needs to be done. It’s important to have activities in our lives. And when we see the devastating effects of a sedentary lifestyle on children, even those under the age of 10, it’s something that we need to address right away. Keeping our children active is not necessarily about forcing them to go to the gym, but it’s about finding ways to incorporate exercise into their lives to keep them healthy and happy. But what are the best ways to do this?
Young children love being active. Encouraging this early on can build them a strong foundation for an active lifestyle. While the school offers certain benefits, you may also need to think about extracurricular activities. You may find there are numerous gymnastics classes for kids in your local area, but the important thing is to not force your children into any form of structured exercise but give them a wide variety of options. It’s important for them to choose what they want to do. Even though exercise like gymnastics is fantastic for building bone density, which can help everybody later in life it’s far better to give them a wide variety of choices and allow them to do something that they enjoy.
Set the Right Example
It’s easy as parents to think we don’t have the time to exercise because life is too busy. But we’ve got to get out of this mindset. As parents, if we tell our children to do things but they don’t see us doing the same thing, it’s a “one rule for us and one for them” scenario. By setting the right example, this is telling our children, in no uncertain terms, that it is good for everyone. You can have a battle on your hands, especially when you are telling your children to exercise or run around if you practice what you preach. But this is where incorporating something that everybody can do is the best approach. Setting aside a little bit of time every week to exercise as a family is just a great way to get moving, but it’s another family activity that everybody can enjoy. If you are all sitting in different rooms or busy with work, taking the opportunity to do something as a family, especially something as healthy as this, will create a positive attitude towards health and exercise.
Make It Fun!
Children under the age of 10 like to play. If we feel that they’ve got to get off the couch and do a workout, it may not give them the enthusiasm for exercise. It’s important that we make exercising fun. We can follow their lead and look at what they do and join in. A simple game of tag is a fantastic way to get your cardiovascular system up and running. But if you want to start structuring a workout of sorts when they are older, you’ve got to appeal to their interests. There are a wide variety of resources available on YouTube for children. If you are looking to get your children into increasing their mobility, you can find Sonic The Hedgehog yoga sessions, or if you want your children to start building up strength, you can use this Avengers-themed workout as a perfect starting point. Whatever you do, make it fun.
Change the Routine
If we are looking to incorporate exercise into our children’s lives, we may have to make subtle tweaks to our routine. When our children are more glued to their screens than the outdoors, we’ve got to start finding ways to shave their screen time and structure some form of exercise to take over their well-worn habits. For example, if they come home from school and immediately sit down in front of a console, encourage them to go running around the garden or play before the evening meal. When we slowly start to encourage our children to do more physical activity, it’s worth pointing out the difference in how they feel after. When our children start to change their habits from a more sedentary lifestyle to an active one, it’s important to give it some time. They may not feel amazing right away, but when they do start to feel the benefits and appear more energetic, it is worth pointing this out just to get the message across.
Make It Safe for Them
Safety is important. Whatever the activity, you have got to think about the best ways to do it safely. When your children start to run around more, there is the potential for hazards and hurting themselves. Essential items like wrist pads, bike helmets, and knee pads are essential for activities like skateboarding, riding bikes, or climbing. Just remember to make sure it is age-appropriate. As amazing as it would be if your child shows an interest in something like going to karate, if they are still on the young side you may want to find ways to incorporate it, but without making it dangerous.
Think About the Long Term
It’s important to remember that you’ve got plenty of time to get the balance right. There are so many different aspects to being healthy. It’s not just exercise, it’s about diet. Getting your children to eat well is one of the biggest challenges that we can undergo as parents. Try not to pressure yourself and get everything perfect before they are 10. It’s important to think about the long-term. You’ve also got to look at it in a holistic manner. There will be parts of their lives where they are already feeling the pressures. And it’s about taking a good look at the situation and seeing if encouraging them to do more exercise is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. There are plenty of things that you can do to encourage your children in other aspects of their lives. Exercise is a fantastic way to build resilience and encourage mental strength in other ways. When you pile the pressure upon them to run around or to eat well, their natural inclination is to rebel. You have to think about the long-term effects, good and bad, of encouraging exercise. It could be possible to work with the school to encourage a more robust approach to exercise. But you have to remember, your children need to be willing participants. If you present exercise as something that has to be done, no ifs, ands or buts, your children won’t find the fun in it and they will only grow to resent exercise. As soon as they are old enough, they will stop. Pick your battles and incorporate them really gradually into their lives.
Bringing exercise into our children’s lives isn’t just about the stereotypical approach of lifting weights or going for a run. The goal is to get children moving. If our children get moving, this gets the heart pumping and good health gradually follows. And it’s something that we need to remember as well. There are so many different ways to incorporate exercise into our children’s lives, and there is a drive to reduce a sedentary lifestyle, but we have to remember that there is such a thing as overdoing it. They say, as a rule, we need to encourage a child to be physically active for 60 minutes at least each day. And when we start to think about how much adds up to 60 minutes, whether it’s a little walk or playing, you may find that they are doing just enough. As long as our children are doing the right amount, we will have done our job.