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Create exercise opportunities for children

  • Published
  • By Anne Nikola
  • Red Cross volunteer
Any parent will tell you--kids have a lot of energy. To help burn off some of this energy, it is important to get kids moving and to engage in some physical activity. Convincing your kids to get out and be active will build confidence while educating them on the importance of physical activity and leading a healthy lifestyle.

In the United States, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical activity can be a significant ingredient to the prevention of childhood obesity and help improve a child's health.

Since 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama, has been making a big impact on teaching kids how to be healthier and to stay active with her "Let's Move!" campaign, working towards a mission for the elimination of childhood obesity in the United States. Obama's movement encourages children to strive for at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity incorporating both aerobic conditioning and muscle strengthening, but to do it through a variety of fun activities.

To keep kids excited about physical activity, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends sticking to four key components: having fun, include variety, scheduling active time, and thinking outside the box. So what are some good ideas to help get your kids moving?

A good start to encouraging kids to be active is to limit their "screen time" and encourage them to find more physical activities in their spare time instead. Screen time includes anytime spent using electronic devices such as computers, video game consoles, televisions, or cell phones. Unfortunately, the reason kids are spending less time being physically active is mainly due to the increase in screen time.

Encourage kids to play games such as tag, tree climbing, hide-n-seek, and catch instead of sitting indoors. You might also set-up a scavenger hunt around the house or a park to get the kids moving by walking or running around while searching for clues.

Second, consider purchasing a few basic toys for the kids as an incentive to get moving. Examples of these items can include: basketballs, soccer balls, roller blades, hula hoops, swing sets or bicycles.

Third, if kids are interested in team activities, sign them up for a sport or class that requires physical activity. Swim lessons, dance classes, soccer teams, and karate, are all great ways to help your kids stay active while developing skills such as coordination and balance.

Lastly, set an example for the kids. Kids look up to parents for guidance. As parents we demonstrate the importance of exercise in our daily routines, this will instill a more positive outlook on physical activity for our children. You can even make this a family affair. Go for family bike rides around the neighborhood or stop at the local park for some climbing and running on the playground. If you have a dog, take the dog for a walk around the block for some light activity. Spending family time getting active is a great way to introduce kids to the fun and the importance of physical activity in everyone's life.

By incorporating a few of these activities in your weekly schedule, it will definitely help your kids to get started towards the goal of 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Including many of these different activities throughout the week will help with variety and prevent boredom. Don't forget to stay on the lookout for new local activities in your area such as 5K races or YMCA family activity nights. These are all great ways for families and kids to sneak in some exercise while having fun together.

For further information regarding family fitness or other Health and Wellness related topics, please contact the Health and Wellness Center at 256-7139.