While we think of childhood as a time for play, most kids today don’t get enough activity to keep them healthy. Only one in five meets the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guideline of being active for an hour a day. If you’re a parent with kids at home, make moving more of a family affair.
“If you want your kids to be more active, one of the best things you can do is participate with them,” says Shavise Hargro, an exercise physiologist at Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore. “Kids learn behavior from watching their parents.”
Depending on your children’s ages and interests, there are a variety of ways you can get your kids up and moving more:
- Turn sedentary activities into active ones: If your kids love video games, look for Wii or PlayStation games such as tennis that get them up off the couch.
- Make active time together as a family a priority: Play tag or Frisbee in the backyard, plan a family bike ride, or walk several times a week.
- Follow your kids’ interests: Some kids enjoy team sports such as basketball and soccer, while others may prefer to learn how to rock-climb or do other individual sports.
- Cut back on “screen time”: The more time your children spend in front of the television and computer, the more likely they are to be overweight and inactive. When your kids do watch TV, use commercial breaks to do jumping jacks, sit-ups, or push-ups.
- Talk to your kids about the connection between activity and health: Kids who move more perform better on tests, are more likely to play sports, and are less likely to experience anxiety and depression.