Today in America, children spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen ( TV, videogames, computer). Physical fitness has become a national issue, and continues to cause health problems on an overwhelming scale. Prevalence of obesity for children ages 6 to 11 years has more than quadrupled in the last thirty years. Furthermore, overweight adolescents have 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. For some children, living an active lifestyle just comes naturally, and they love to play multiple sports. But what can we do when a child is simply not athletic, or does not have the drive to engage in any type of physical activity?
Here are 4 tips for influencing your child to live a healthy active lifestyle:
#1. Get Creative
If your child does not drawn to organized sports like basketball or soccer, encourage them to try different physical activities; dancing, wall climbing, swimming, riding bikes, walking your dog (or your neighbor’s,) fly a kite, or basically anything that is going to get them moving. Also it’s important to make sure that your child has fun, no matter what activity you encourage him or her to try. If they try an activity and don’t enjoy it, just move on to another idea.
#2. Join In
Kids generally like playing games, but they love playing them with their parents. The best way to encourage your child to get active is by joining them. Ride bikes, go play in the back yard, play tag, hopscotch, 4 square, etc. “You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment or special classes to encourage your child to exercise,” says Patricia Nixon, PhD, president-elect of the North American Society of Pediatric Exercise Medicine.
#3. Limit TV or Computer Time
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids get no more than one to two hours of screen time a day, whether that’s watching TV, surfing the Internet, or playing video games. Offer some alternatives as a way to make it a positive experience. At first, they will not be happy with the sudden change, but after they latch onto an activity that they have fun with, they’ll forget all about the screens.
#4. Show Them How to Live a Healthy Lifestyle by Example
Kids generally emulate what they see from their parents. Researchers found that parentsâ€™ TV viewing time had a stronger connection to childrenâ€™s viewing time than did other factors such as rules about time limits, whether the children had a TV in the bedroom, or co-viewing. Also incorporating physical activity into daily activity can have a great influence on the child’s lifestyle as well. Show them that they should take the stairs, go for walks, and try new outdoor games to get them accustomed to moving around throughout the day.
So encourage your child to try new activities, get involved, and lead by example to help your child learn how to life a healthy active lifestyle. Also find out how you can help support programs like PlayStreets that help give children available spaces to play and be creative.