Exercise definitely shouldn’t feel like a chore, especially for little kids, who should relish in activities that unbeknownst to them are good for keeping fit and healthy. Aside from maintaining a healthy weight and fitness level, physical activity has numerous other benefits such as strengthening muscles, bonding with others and potentially gathering new skills. Incorporating exercise into your children’s life should be an easy and joyous task, and also presents the perfect opportunity for you to work on your own fitness journey.
Make It Habitual
Many professionals say that getting an hour of physical activity a day is a good goal to aim for. If you think of this as one hour of concentrated exercise, it may be difficult to get your kids excited about the idea. However, if you make it a habit to incorporate a variety of tasks or activities that double as physical engagement, the process becomes far easier. For example, if you don’t live very far away from your kids school, making cycling or walking to and from school a daily routine, as opposed to hopping in the car. Or if they have a lot of homework to get through, make it a habit to have 15 minute breaks where they run around in the yard, play catch or go to the nearby playground in between tasks. Incorporating exercise throughout the day is the best way to make sure your kids hardly realize what they are doing and don’t come to resent the concept!
Another fantastic way of keeping your kids on their feet is to have them join a sports team of some sort. Joining a school team or little league ensure a whole bunch of little ones will be running around together and working up a sweat! Besides the fitness benefits, team sports also encourage teamwork, ignite a motivated and competitive spirit, and may result in your child finding natural ability in a particular area that they may wish to pursue. It also serves as the perfect outlet from school stress. If you’re little one seems opposed to team sports such as football, cricket, or the like, consider signing them up for classes such as swimming, where despite not being in a team they will have interaction with other kids their age. Alternatively, consider ideas such as dance or rhythmic gymnastics, for your more creative little ones. Anything that keeps them up on their feet for an extended period of time!
Ditch Technology And Get Outside
In today’s world the danger that children will sit inside on their phones and laptops is one we need to combat. Dr Tony Tanious from House Call Doctor, who has trained in family medicine, explains that this may be key to keeping your kids healthy and recommends the following tip to families:
“Limiting your child’s access to smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices before bedtime, will ensure they have a decent night’s rest. Electronic devices disrupt our body’s melatonin levels, which is the hormone responsible for our wake and sleep cycle.”
He suggests gardening as a possible outdoor activity to get them moving instead:
“Teaching your children to grow their own vegetable patch, or encouraging them to help their grandparents in the garden, will keep kids active. Spending time outdoors will also increase your child’s Vitamin D levels, which improves their energy, mood and overall wellbeing. Remember to practice sun safety if your family spends time in the garden, though!”
Keep Games And Sport Equipment Around
Even if your child isn’t a part of an organised sports activity that takes place every week, you can make sure they are still being sporty around the house. You can facilitate this by keeping equipment such as balls, rackets and bats around, and teach them how to play different games every weekend. You could also consider setting up a few items in your backyard (if you have the space), that facilitate physical activity. For example, hula-hoops, jump ropes and trampolines can keep your little ones amused for hours on end. Alternatively, if you live near a playground, make it a part of your routine to head down there for half an hour before dinner each day, or whenever suits you best!
Make It Into Family Fun!
Combining fun fitness activities with a family day out kills two birds with one stone, and introduces your kids to the idea that working out can be great fun. This can be anything as simple as playing a round of family table tennis, or going cycling together at a nearby park. You could go to the beach or a swimming pool and have a fun-filled day in the water and sunshine. Alternatively, if you have a dog, make it a habit for the family to go on long walks together with the household pet, so that you tick one chore off the list and bond as a family unit simultaneously. If you’re having a lazy afternoon, turn up your favourite tunes and have a dance party with your kids! Family fitness can be as simple or complex as you would like, but as long as you are getting moving with your loved ones it counts!
Don’t Depend On Lollies!
Keeping active isn’t the only way to make sure your kids stay healthy - nutrition is the other key element of the health equation. Sydney dentist Dr Frank Farrelly from Darlinghurst Dental, provides his view on this:
“As a dentist, we often give advice on dental and oral health. Good oral hygiene practices and healthy food habits start at a young age. I would recommend not using food or lollies as a reward system. It creates an unhealthy relationship with sugary goods. Rather a sticker chart or verbal encouragement is better.”