Between smartphones, video games and personal computers, kids have more gadgets at their disposal than ever before. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying these devices in moderation, indulging in technology has become many children’s default leisure activity. Since overindulgence in screen time can leave kids irritable, poorly rested and out of shape, it’s recommended that children balance things out with regular physical activity. However, instilling the importance of exercise in kids is often easier said than done. Parents looking for effective ways to encourage physical activity in their youngsters will be well-served by the following pointers.
Look for Activities That Comport with Your Children’s Interests
As any seasoned parent can confirm, children are unlikely to take part in activities that feel like chores. So if you attempt to foist regular exercise on your kids out of the blue, they’re liable to prove unreceptive to these efforts. On the flipside, if the type of physical activity you propose comports with their individual interests, you’re liable to see very different reactions. With this in mind, seek out physical activities in which your children show genuine interest. For example, if you have a child who’s expressed an interest in certain sports, look for local leagues or encourage them to sign up for a school team. You can also help inspire your kids to exercise by buying them stylish active-wear for joggers, sports stars and other types of athletes.
Have the Whole Family Take Part
Some kids are more apt to engage in exercise if they don’t realize they’re engaging in exercise. With this in mind, look for fun-filled family activities that entail a fair amount of physical fitness. Hikes and camping trips, for example, can help your kids develop an appreciation for nature and keep them on their feet for extended periods. Additionally, taking walks as a family can be a great way to get your children out of the house and exercising on a consistent basis.
Set a Good Example
Children of all ages tend to imitate behaviors they observe in their parents. Unfortunately, this can cut both ways. While observing healthy habits in parents can prove highly beneficial, observing bad habits can increase the likelihood of kids developing those same habits. As such, when it comes to exercise, parents would be wise to lead by example. If you want your kids to understand the importance of physical fitness, it stands to reason that you should practice what you preach. This doesn’t mean that you should devote every waking moment to physical activity, but if your kids consistently see you engaged in light exercise, they’re less likely to push back against your efforts to make them more active.
Make Screen Time Contingent on Exercise
When trying to encourage a healthy interest in physical activity, it’s important that exercise not seem like a chore or punishment. However, if your children have proven completely unreceptive to your efforts, putting your foot down may be the most effective course of action. So if excessive screen time has prevented your kids from taking part in physical fitness, it might be time to issue an ultimatum: in the absence of regular exercise, there will be no screen time.
This isn’t to say that your kids should be required to exercise excessively or take part in sports in which they have no interest. Still, 30 minutes to one hour of physical activity per day shouldn’t be too much to ask in exchange for screen privileges. Whether it’s enjoying a nice walk, going for a jog or simply playing outside, a little bit of daily exercise can go a long way in helping kids stay healthy.
It isn’t hard to see why so many children have put physical activity on the backburner. With so many modern-day conveniences vying for their attention, basic exercise seems like a quaint notion of the past for a growing number of kids. While some children are bound to prove unreceptive to the idea of regular exercise, getting your kids interested in physical activity is a very worthwhile endeavor. It’s never too late to get serious about physical fitness, but as is the case with many things in life, getting involved early on can have long-lasting benefits.