You probably won’t believe it, but James has no idea that “The Race Game” is actually designed for making fitness exciting for children while benefiting their health. This energetic 6-year-old loves climbing over furniture and navigating around secure obstacles in his Onsted home. His mom, who uses a watch as a timer, fully supports this fun activity. After all, she’s the one who came up with this engaging “game” and actively participates in it with her son.
Getting creative and moving around with your kids is good for everyone’s health, but it especially benefits the parents. We must watch out that we don’t encourage people to exercise too much. The keyword is “fun.”
When compared to the recommended hour of vigorous activity per day by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children in our state average only about 15 minutes per day. Consequently, what can you do?
Moving in place.
Fixing this problem may involve convincing sedentary people to join the cause. Children’s health experts William and Martha Sears write in their book The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood: “If you have a child who loves to sit and watch TV or play computer or video games, have a house rule: TIME SITTING = TIME MOVING. Have your children get some exercise in front of the television by using a mini trampoline, a jump rope, or an exercise band while they watch their favorite shows.
That is to say, make sure kids’ time in front of screens is balanced by time spent playing outside. They note that a child can lose five or ten pounds in about a year by increasing their daily activity by 20 to 30 minutes.
Experts agree that it’s crucial to start the habits young and in an interesting way to ensure they stick. James plays upbeat music in his kid-focused health programs. He has the kids “swim” the backstroke and “dribble” invisible basketballs to get them moving. In her words, “they love it.”
“It’s not just telling the kids, ‘OK, you’re going to do this; you’re going to do that,'” says James, who also provides advice on Saturday mornings on public television. To put it another way: “It’s modeling it through the parents. I think it’s great for families to all wake up simultaneously. Doing the laundry can wait. 10 or 15 minutes of physical activity with your kids is better than nothing.
The proper “sport.”
Some children just can’t handle the stress of competitive sports. There are times when the void can be filled by intramural or community recreation teams. Try to expand your mind-set beyond formal institutions as well. Dietitian from Florida lists karate and martial arts, dancing, biking, Rollerblading, and even jumping rope as some of the top 10 physical activities that kids are likely to enjoy.
Choices matter, and so does one’s age. Julien, who has worked as a nutrition consultant for Burger King Corp. and the U.S. Tennis Association, emphasizes the importance of giving toddlers plenty of free time to play in sandboxes and parks. Young children as young as 4 or 5 can begin participating in organized sports.
Consider your child’s feelings and needs. If he doesn’t feel comfortable participating in a group setting, like a sports team, you can help him find another enjoyable physical activity where that isn’t an issue.
When a kid decides to take ballet or play soccer, the parents have to commit the same kind of commitment.
Teens and up.
As children grow, so make the difficulties they will face. Some research suggests that by the time a child reaches puberty, their enthusiasm for physical activity has waned. James recommends a gradual transition away from bad habits. And resist the urge to give up.
Moving away from the exact middle requires a lot of extra work. The third time is the charm, and they usually agree. Acknowledge their efforts and applaud them for their progress.
She argued that the benefits of exercise for children extend beyond the obvious ones of weight loss and muscle gain to include improved confidence and health.
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