The benefits of introducing your child to an active lifestyle extends beyond youth and often influences her well into adulthood. According to the Fitness By the Sea Day Camp, an active child tends to maintain healthy habits throughout her life. With so many competing television programs, gaming devices and modern electronics, it has become more important than ever to encourage your child to get outside and stay active.
Kids Naturally Want to Play
If you’ve ever been to a playground, you’ll notice that kids seem to naturally want to play. As kids get older it becomes more difficult to stay active as schoolwork, overworked families and an increase in responsibilities compete for attention. It’s important for families to make time several days per week to commit to an active lifestyle. Going to the park, taking your family on a walk or making an annual camping trip are all good ways to instill the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle. Encourage your child’s natural desire to stay active while developing positive associations with exercise.
Benefits of Staying Active
According to Kids Health, active kids who get regular exercise have a decreased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and maintain a healthier weight throughout life. Additionally, exercise improves sleep, promotes a positive outlook and builds strong muscles and bones. Active children also tend to perform better in school, think more clearly and have better self-discipline. Physical activity also helps to build your child’s self-esteem, and willingness to engage in new activities.
Techniques to Increase Activity Levels
Sports teams provide a great opportunity for your child to develop social skills, improve coordination and stay active. Find out what sports your child enjoys and find a team for him to join. Consider special summer camps, fitness programs and youth leagues to make staying fit fun and enjoyable for your child. Part of the challenge of keeping your child active is to avoid letting him stay stagnant for too long. Set specific times for computer, video games and television use. Avoid the tendency to reward your child for staying active by bribing him with video games or television time in exchange for physical activity. By rewarding exercise with something he deems more enjoyable, you make exercise seem like a chore.
How to Motivate Your Child
Unless you provide opportunities for your child to stay active, you can’t expect her to always make the right decisions regarding her health. When a child is left to her own devices, she may naturally choose the easiest option that offers immediate rewards and feedback. Make sure your child has sports equipment, get her a bike and create opportunities for her to stay active in a fun and safe environment.
Parents are the first line of defense against an inactive lifestyle. The habits and behaviors that a child learns early in life will stick with him for the rest of his life. Modeling the behavior you want to see in your child offers one way to keep him engaged and active.