Kids are naturally energetic but helping them focus on more than a videogame or chasing their siblings around the living room with whatever object can miraculously transform into a sword is a pretty difficult feat. Unfortunately, it seems like children are spending an ever-increasing amount of time being still instead of moving, which doesn’t help dispel energy but instead compounds an already frustrating problem.
According to the CDC, the rate of childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents over the past 30 years. As one of those among the statistics, I can absolutely attest to that fact. I was a book worm and before I joined high school athletics, I was a very chubby kid.
The main problem (besides diet) was inactivity for me, and I imagine a lot of other children as well. Concerned parents need not be afraid! We’ve put together some fun activities that will get kids out and active as well as encourage a little family bonding time in the process. Enjoy!
Team sports: Signing your child up for a team sport is a great way to get them off the couch and into the world. Not only do team sports help development of interpersonal skills, but they help develop muscles and strengthen growing lungs. In addition, sports are activities the two of you can enjoy together. There is nothing a kid loves more than to be encouraged by his or her parents. By cheering them on during games, you will be raising your child’s self-esteem, something everyone needs. Look up local sports teams in your area. Chances are there will be a soccer league, hockey league or baseball league nearby. Check in early spring since that’s usually when signups begin.
Sign them up for an organization: Sports might not be your child’s cup of tea, but he or she might still be interested in joining a youth organization. A good one to consider is 4-H, a free community program that allows the child to pick an area of interest and make a project goal to work toward throughout the year. Some examples of projects might include topics like: photography, robotics, gardening, animal science, ecology, rocketry, textiles or cooking. The 4-H also offers a health, nutrition & fitness path for youth to not only get them moving, but to educate them on proper nutrition. If your child is more of the outdoorsy type, it might be a good option to join The Girl Scouts of America or The Boy Scouts of America, which teaches leadership and team building activities. Even if they aren’t doing cardio all the time, joining an organization gets your child out of the house and away from sedentary activities.
Use videogames: I know this seems counter intuitive, but with systems like Xbox Kinect and Wii it’s easy to get them off the couch. If they love video games, make sure when they play them they have to be moving at the same time. With games like Star Wars for Kinect or Harry Potter for Kinect, they can enjoy the storyline of their favorite games and movies in addition to getting some physical activity.
These three suggestions are just a few of many possibilities that will get your child on the path toward better fitness. By finding what interests your child and using that to get them up and moving, you’ll make sure they avoid some of the possible side effects associated with obesity in adulthood and have a lot of fun in the process. Good luck!
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