Learn how to promote physical activity in children in 2023 and explore our ways and tips to make your kid stay healthy and happy in one.
Kids need to be active for their health. School and busy schedules make it hard, but parents can help. Kids need 60 minutes of activity each day. Parents can encourage walking or biking to school, taking stairs, and playing with friends. Outdoor sports and activities like roller skating, frisbee, and kite flying are great. Parents should help kids find activities they enjoy and make them fun, like trying different sports and playing games like tag or dancing.
1. Encourage Your Child to Move
Children should be physically active for at least an hour each day. This doesn’t have to be structured sports, but it can include running, cycling, swimming or walking. It’s also important to encourage them to participate in activities they enjoy so that they don’t view exercise as a chore and stick to it throughout their lives.
For younger children, physical activity can help them sleep better and improve their classroom behavior. It can also strengthen their bones and promote healthy growth as they grow.
It’s also important to show them that you’re a good role model by being physically active yourself. Children who regularly see their parents participating in sports and other physical activities are more likely to do the same themselves. If you can’t make it to a gym, try taking the kids on hikes or bike rides or having them join in on your workouts at home. This will teach them how fun and rewarding being active can be. It can also teach them how to handle stress better. Children who don’t get enough exercise often have difficulty coping with emotional and behavioral problems.
2. Make Exercise a Family Activity
Children who are active as a family are more likely to continue their fitness habits as adults. However, fitting exercise into a busy schedule can be difficult, especially when children have many after-school activities and parents have their own busy lives.
Start small and add to your routine gradually. It’s best to avoid going from hardly any or no exercise to long periods of vigorous activity. This isn’t practical or sustainable and may lead to injury.
Try adding a 30-minute walk to your daily routine before or after dinner. You can also make it fun by walking to school together, rollerblading on a weekend or playing catch in the backyard.
You can even turn exercise into a game by creating a deck of fitness cards using standard playing cards (hearts = push ups, clubs = crunches, diamonds = jumping jacks and spades = squats). Have each member of the family pick a card and do the number of exercises stated on it. If you’re feeling creative, set up an obstacle course around the house or outside and have your family members race each other through it.
3. Have Fun!
Having fun is one of the best ways to encourage kids to have physical fitness as part of their daily routine. For younger children, that means encouraging them to play with active toys like jump ropes or balls. It also means setting limits on their screen time and taking them on active outdoor adventures such as family hikes or bike rides, swimming and playing in the park. They can even try out new physical activities such as hula hooping. It also helps to have parents and teachers set an example of a healthy lifestyle through their own activity levels and by attending local sports games and other events.
Children who are more physically fit behave better in the classroom and are able to concentrate and focus on their schoolwork. They also have healthier bones and are less likely to miss school due to illness. In addition, they are able to take part in more extracurricular activities which can help them discover their passions for things such as soccer, gymnastics and skiing. The “Active 1 + FUN” initiative uses self-determination theory to help families achieve this and is currently undergoing evaluation through a randomized controlled trial.
4. Make Exercise a Priority
Physical activity is a vital part of any child’s life. It helps them build strong bones and muscles, improve their cardio-respiratory health, maintain a healthy weight and prevent future health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.
Children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day. This can be accomplished through physical education classes, recess and before-and-after-school programs.
Encourage your kids to take active steps such as limiting screen time, adding physical exercise to their daily routines and making playtime with their friends a priority. Make sure there are plenty of active toys, such as jumping ropes and basketballs, available for their use.
Young toddlers (ages 0-2 years) should be encouraged to explore and try new physical activities. Playing with parents and older siblings, going for walks or playing outside are great examples.
5. Be a Good Role Model
One of the best ways to promote physical activity in children is by being a good role model. This means regularly participating in physically active activities and demonstrating healthy lifestyle behaviors.
It also means letting kids see you enjoying being active and showing that you can have fun at any age or level of ability. You can do this by playing tag, basketball, swimming or even just walking around the neighborhood. You can take your kids to a playground, encourage them to join a sport they enjoy and teach them how to play it. And you can encourage them to try new things by showing that curiosity is a good thing, such as learning how to hula hoop!
Being a good role model also means having high moral values. Child development specialists suggest that children admire those who support worthwhile causes, behave ethically and project a sense of confidence without becoming arrogant. You can model these qualities by volunteering in your community, supporting local sports teams and engaging in family fitness activities such as hiking, swimming and gardening.