Tuesday, February 19, 2013

6 Fun Ways to Add Exercise to Your Child’s Day

Childhood obesity is becoming a growing problem in many countries - ours is one of the worst.  Things are getting so bad that more and more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a disease that used to be isolated to older, overweight adults.  As parents, it is our responsibility to help keep our child’s weight and health in check.  A great way to do this is by getting your children to exercise more often.  This can help them to lose weight and simply be more healthy - and it will instill in them healthy habits that can benefit them throughout their adult lives.. 

Here are a few tips to help you get your child up and moving - and enjoying it:

Happy Children Playing Kids
(Photo credit: epSos.de)
1.  Sign them up for group sports.  These are not only a great way to get a workout, they also promote socialization and self esteem.  Plus, most kids think sports are fun - not work.  If you find a sport your child really likes, they’ll want to practice all the time and get more and more exercise.  Try to enroll your child in a sport that promotes aerobic activity, and that they really enjoy. 

2. Don’t rely completely on sports.  Some kids just don’t like sports.  If this is the case, you need to make adjustments to the plan.  If they really don’t enjoy it, they won't stick with it or reap as many benefits, so find something else for them to do.  Many fitness centers offer a variety of classes for children including martial arts, dance, and even yoga. 

3. Work out together.  Children learn a lot of their behavior from their family.  That means, if you sit around all day and don’t work out, that’s probably what they’re going to do.  Setting a good example for your child by getting regular exercise is healthy for both you and them!  A great way for you to both get a workout is to find something you both enjoy and do it together.   

4. Make it fun.  You may enjoy the quiet time you get on a running on a treadmill, but your child is probably going to complain. So put yourself in their place - just running in place is pretty boring for a kid. Instead of doing normal adult workout routines, make up games, play tag, play sports, or dance.  It doesn’t really matter what it is, just make sure it’s fun and entertaining for your child.  Be creative, and see what fun active games you can come up with.

Dance Dance Revolution (Game Boy Color video g...
Dance Dance Revolution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
5. Cut back on T.V. and video games.  The best way to keep your child from playing too many video games is to stop the problem before it starts.  If you allow your child to veg in front of the T.V. for hours at a time and then cut back, they’re going to be angry.  It’s best to limit times of inactivity from a young age.  If you’re having trouble getting your kids to give up the games, buy games that require physical activity like Dance Revolution or various active games available on the Nintendo Wii.  This is a great compromise where you both win - and you may even find yourself playing along!

6. Fit it in where you can.  Today's children often have almost as busy schedules as adults do.  If you don’t have a large open chunk of time for your kids to get exercise, you can squeeze in small activities when you do have a few minutes free.  Try a "5 minute jump rope break" in between homework sessions, or a 15 minute game of tag outside before dinner. This is more natural for kids anyway - they don't naturally schedule an hour to work out if you think about it - if you let kids run around and play how they want, they will exercise via bursts of activity.

These are just a few ways to get your kid up and active.  They may be resistant at first, but keep trying.  Starting good exercise habits when your child is young is a vital part of a healthy adult lifestyle. 

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