Over the past several years, children have grown less active. This rising inactivity is due in part to increasingly busy lifestyles, long hours of homework, busy parents, after-school activities, and the temptation of screens. Meanwhile, obesity rates increase, behavioral issues rise, and screen-related eye and mental disorders develop. How can you reverse this trend and keep your kids active? Here are eight tips that should give you a head start.
8 Tips on How to Keep Your Kids Active
- Limit technology usage. Don’t put televisions, computers, or gaming devices in your children’s bedrooms. Set time limits on when or how long screens can be used. For example, establish a rule that all screens must be turned off during meals or other family activities. Use screen time as a reward instead of allowing it freely, or give a certain amount of screen time in exchange for a similar amount of time spent outdoors or exercising. Hold yourself to these same standards outside of work hours.
- Get your children’s classroom or your family’s homeschool involved in a consistent, simple exercise program, such as Just-A-Minute, or JAM. Through JAM’s free program, students perform a minute of exercise at various intervals throughout the week.
- Purchase play equipment for your backyard, such as a jungle gym and a trampoline for kids. Make them challenging, but safe, by purchasing from quality companies whose focus is state-of-the-art safety, such as Swings N Things in Cincinnati. Go one step further and fence your yard so your children can play safely without fear of outside interference.
- Make activity a social event by getting other families or neighborhood children involved. A simple way to make exercise a group activity is to purchase equipment that can be used by two or more people, such as a basketball hoop, trampoline, swimming pool, or tandem bike.
- Set a goal as a family. Sign up for a 5K walk or a 10K run and train together. Plan a hiking trip to the Grand Canyon and establish weekly training goals to prepare. Plan an extended bike trip and practice a couple times a week until you’re prepared for the real thing. Not only will you grow stronger, but you’ll also grow closer.
- Set an example. Make fitness a priority. Prioritizing an active lifestyle in no way means you have to get a gym membership or start a body building regimen. Let the kids see you doing push-ups or knee raises during the day and shutting off the television to take a walk in the evening.
- Establish a family habit of taking a 20-30 minute walk at night instead of crashing in front of the television. Also, instead of hanging around on the computer or vegging out on weekends, go hiking or biking. Not only will this practice get the blood flowing, but the conversation will flow as well.
- Get the kids involved in active chores, such as mowing the lawn, raking leaves, shoveling the sidewalk, or digging up the garden. Older children can be part of a volunteer organization that does yard work and similar chores for the elderly or disabled. Their active chore involvement doesn’t mean they can’t still help with dishes and dusting at home.
Encouraging an active lifestyle will give your children healthy habits to last them a lifetime. If you make physical activity a family affair, it will also improve the health and bonding of your entire household. Now get out and there and get moving!