We all know the benefits of an active lifestyle and a regular exercise routine. Exercise reduces your risk of illness, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Being active also improves your judgment skills, your ability to learn and retain information, and your overall mental health and mood.
Adults aren’t the only ones who can benefit from exercise. Children greatly benefit from physical activity as exercise helps:
- Improve memory, concentration, and their ability to learn
- Reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve mental health
- Optimize their immune system
- Build stronger muscles and bones
As parents, it can be easy for us to overlook our child’s physical activity as children are often naturally more active compared to adults. Yet, kids who are encouraged to exercise and remain active now may be more likely to continue healthy living into their adulthood.
The Impact Inactivity Has On a Child’s Health
According to the CDC, only 24 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 17 engage in at least one hour of physical activity each day. The CDC also found that around 18.5 percent, or 13.7 million children and adolescents in the U.S., are obese.
Physical inactivity can be detrimental to a child’s health. Children who do not get enough exercise are at higher risk for conditions such as:
- Cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and hyperlipidemia
- Glucose intolerance
- Type 2 diabetes
- Low bone density, which can result in conditions like osteoporosis
- Certain cancers, including lung, endometrial, colon, and breast cancer
Therefore, it is crucial that we as parents ensure that our children receive enough exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. While our kids may get some exercise at school during gym or recess, it’s important to encourage our kids to be physically active outside of school. We can do this by making exercise a fun and enjoyable experience.
10 Ways to Make Exercise Fun for Kids and Encourage Healthy Living
Making exercise a priority doesn’t have to be boring or forced. By making exercise fun and enjoyable, kids will more readily engage in activities, especially younger children. Here are ten ways that you can make exercise fun for children while encouraging healthy living.
1. Try Different Forms of Exercise
Finding an exercise that your child will enjoy will help your child become more excited for daily activities. Try different forms of exercise such as sports, dance, or active games like kickball or dodgeball. Go on a bike ride instead of a jog and consider your child’s hobbies and the things they love to find the right type of exercise for them.
2. Choose to Work Out Together
Having a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a regular exercise routine is beneficial to both adults and children. As parents, it’s easier to motivate our kids by sharing an interest in an activity. Working out together will benefit your physical and mental health alongside your child’s and provide a unique bonding experience.
3. Create a Routine and Stick With It
Having an exercise routine helps make physical activity become more of a habit. While you and your child may not always have time to ride bikes together, take a class, or play a sport, you can incorporate physical activity in your child’s day. If your child currently does chores, why not assign more physical tasks? These chores could include washing the car, walking the dog, yard work, or shoveling snow.
4. Buy Exercise Equipment and Clothing
Having active equipment around the house can help your kids be active. Try to keep fun stuff like jump ropes, Frisbees, bicycles, and rollerblades around the house. If you have a pool or trampoline on your property, maintain those items so that they are available for your children.
Having the right activewear is also important. For example, if your child is interested in building snowmen or sledding during the winter season, winter clothing, waterproof gloves, and snow boots are essential.
5. Give Your Child Active Gifts
Instead of buying the latest video game or toy, it can be helpful for us to give our child active gifts. These gifts can be provided during holidays, special occasions, for doing well in school, or other rewards. What are your child’s hobbies and interests? Are they interested in rollerblading, ice skating, skateboarding, or a sport? Providing gifts related to exercise is a fun way to get children more involved in an active, healthy lifestyle.
6. Use Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool that can help motivate kids, build their self-esteem, and improve upon their overall enjoyment of an activity. Positive reinforcement can be especially effective for children who are less active or reluctant to try out a new activity. Take pride in your child’s accomplishments, big or small, and they’ll be more likely to take pride in themselves. Give them kudos for their efforts, and they’ll be more likely to keep at it.
7. Reduce and Limit Screen Time
Most children in America spend between five and seven hours each day in front of a screen. Having too much screen time can impair your child’s ability to gain restful sleep each night and raise their risk for diabetes, mental health problems, and more. A good screen time guideline for both adults and kids is to limit screen time to two hours each day.
8. Take an Exercise Class or Sign Up for a Sport
Exercise classes and sports are a great way to keep our children engaged in active, healthy living. While sports aren’t for everyone, your child may still enjoy classes such as gymnastics, swimming, dancing, roller skating, yoga, and more. Is your child interested in martial arts? Martial arts and self-defense classes are another great way to get moving and stay active.
9. Try Fitness Video Games
If your child enjoys video games, you can make video games a fun and active experience. Certain games, such as dancing games or Wii Sports, keep your child moving. Some Wii games simulate sporting games, such as tennis, baseball, boxing, and bowling. Fitness video games create a fun experience for everyone involved and can help make exercise more enjoyable for children.
10. Keep it Fresh
Repetition can become boring and some forms of physical activity may not be available during different seasons throughout the year. It’s important to keep things fresh by mixing up the types of exercises that you and your child engage in. By having a variety of activities that you and your child will enjoy, you’ll be more likely to keep the fun of exercise going strong.
A Few Words from USHEALTH Group
There are many ways that we can encourage our kids to be physically active and lead a healthy lifestyle. By taking the initiative with your children now, you will better your child’s health and encourage them to become more active adults.
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