In the United States, the average child watches three hours of TV each day and about five and a half hours using media in one form or another (television, computer, video games). Due to this trend, the obesity rate in children, over the past three decades, has more than doubled. Television and media have become the babysitters of the new millennium and it’s to the detriment of our children’s health and well-being.
- Infant: no requirement but physical activity should be encouraged
- Toddler: 30 minutes of structured activity and 60 minutes of free play
- Preschooler: 60 minutes of structured activity and 60 minutes of free play
- School age: at least one hour broken into 15 minute intervals throughout the day
NASPE also says that children should not be completely inactive for long periods of time. Infants and younger children should not be sedentary for more than an hour and school-age children should not be inactive for longer than two hours. These time frames do not include naps and bed time. So how do you get your children and family to have a positive mindset about fitness? First, here is great BMI calculator that can help with showing how healthy you are compared to your weight. Second, try the following tips:
Children are sponges and love to learn. What better way to teach them about exercise than to teach them why they should exercise? Benefits of exercise for children include:
-Strength of Bones and Muscles
-Positivity and Happiness
The best motivators for children often include fun, opportunity and age-appropriateness. Children of all ages benefit most from at least one hour of activity a day. Activity can include play in the yard or house, school recess and organized sports. It’s best to remember that every child, no matter how badly we want them to be, is not a star athlete nor does every child hold an interest in sports. For these kids, finding activities that they do enjoy can be difficult. For children that are interested in athletics, organized sports often start at age 4. Try to find a club that focuses on fundamentals, team spirit and sportsmanship rather than who can beat who.
Be Fun and Creative
Exercise doesn’t mean putting your child on a treadmill or dropping them off at the gym for a strenuous workout. Each day holds opportunity for fun and exercise! There are many great places where you can find online exercises. Some out-of-the-box, creative ideas for exercise include: -Obstacle course: a course can easily be set up in the backyard using buckets and wood planks for jumps or crawl-unders, inner tubes or tires, swing sets and even a sand bag for pulling. -Chores: smaller children love helping their parents. Buy your child a play lawn mower and let them ‘help’ you cut the grass. There are many realistic toys on the market, from vacuum cleaners to cleaning carts, which will let your child go along with your daily activities. -Washing the car: again, perfect for smaller children! The scrubbing and drying motions used to wash the car will help build both muscle strength and endurance. Play around with it, have fun with the water hose. The more fun your child has the more likely they are to want to participate. -Aerobic activity: walking and bicycling exercises are fantastic activities for children. Taking your bikes, or your walks, to different locations will keep things interesting. Going to a park or nature preserve will also give you the added benefit of being able to teach your child about nature.
Remember the old adage ‘do as I say, not as I do’? If your child watches you sit on the couch in front of the television all day long that is exactly the habit they will develop. Get up! Get active! Telling your child to exercise isn’t enough. Professionals agree that one of the best ways for parents to participate in exercise with their children, aside from sports, is taking an active vacation. Some examples of active vacations include: -Camping: depending on the park you choose, camping provides the opportunity for family hikes, canoeing trips and other outdoor activities. -Adventure vacations: skiing, diving and rafting trips are all great choices. -Tourist destinations: most major tourist destinations offer excellent opportunities for walking. From museums to city tours to swimming at the hotel, visiting a big city doesn’t mean being sedentary. By motivating, being creative and participating in physical activities with your children, you are sure to raise fit, healthy kids. Put down the remote, get off of the couch and head outside. Your children will thank you for it!
Author Bio: Ashlyn is a freelance writer for a fitness website full of online workout plans. Her expertise is family fitness and finding great ways to get everyone excited about exercise. On her free time, you can find Ashlyn relaxing on her patio with a cold glass of water comparing car insurance.