The importance of engaging children in physical activity and teaching them to enjoy an active lifestyle cannot be understated. Summer is a perfect time to take advantage of the inviting outdoor weather, and encourage everyone in the family to get some healthy exercise. Being active has many benefits for children, from toddlers to teenagers; it can promote proper growth and development, help regulate sleeping patterns, and create feel-good endorphins. Another important benefit of physical activity is that it can contribute to the maintenance of a healthy body weight for your child. Many members of the current generation of children are struggling with weight issues, thus increased physical activity combined with a healthy diet can help prevent complications of obesity in adulthood.
5 Tips to Increase Your Child’s Physical Activity
- Be a role model – Children learn very quickly through observation. If you show them how important it is to you to take care of yourself – by exercising and eating healthy – they will be much more likely to be interested in your encouragement and follow suit. Taking them for a walk with you or even letting them watch you do light aerobic exercises is enough to stimulate conscious awareness.
- Be Consistent and Firm About Routines – It is important to emphasize regularity in exercise and well as healthy eating habits. In combination, the upkeep of these good habits developed in childhood can help prevent cardiovascular and weight- associated complications in adulthood.
- Individualize Their Exercise – For some children, the competition of group sports may make them resist involvement. Individual accomplishments can be experienced through activities like dancing, yoga, bike riding or rollerblading. More strenuous activity can be gradually approached, starting with a daily walking routine to produce rewarding results.
- Control Downtime – Setting limits on the amount of time a child spends on sedentary activities can lead to more extra time for physical activities. Calmer activities should be saved for the evening, and can provide valuable wind- down time before bed.
- Pick Trendy Activities – selecting activities that are popular with children can facilitate willing involvement. Step classes, dance classes (such as hip hop), kickboxing and karate are all activities that a parent and child can enjoy together… without any ‘social trauma’ on the child’s part.
Adapted from Parade Magazine, Sept 2005
For more information on Dr. Caralei Peters, ND and Dr. Laura Grant, ND visit www.naturopathicperspectives.ca and www.arborvitae.ca