In the U.S., only 1 in 3 children are physically active every day, while a large proportion of kids spend excessive amounts of time using various electronic devices – TVs, computers and phones to name a few.
With April nearly here, there is no better time to encourage our kids to get outside and get moving. Parents need to take an active role in teaching children behaviors and lifestyle choices that lead to healthy minds and bodies. Spring weather is a great time to review some strategies to help accomplish these goals.
- Try something new: Encourage your child to try out different sports or exercise to discover what they enjoy most. When I see kids in our office, I sometimes joke that we do not need everyone to be in training for the Olympics – rather some children enjoy a variety of activities and mixing things up can keep things interesting. Some days they can be bike riding, and other days they can be swimming, hiking or climbing at the park. Spring is a great time to add to your outdoor play toys or sports equipment to encourage a new form of exercise. (Check out the new Play It Again Sports in Evanston for great prices!).
- Make it a family activity: Staying active as a family can provide even more encouragement. Ride bikes together or walk the dog as a family. A family game of catch or even tag can be beneficial on so many levels. Plus, when it comes to encouraging your kids to stay active – parents must be facilitators and role models. Make sure your kids see you getting regular exercise and that you set aside time for physical activity.
- Be safe: I wouldn’t be a responsible pediatrician if I didn’t remind you to be sure your kids have proper equipment and a safe place for sports or other exercise – helmets, sun protection and lots of water for hydration to name a few.
- Be supportive. And one final thought–as parents we often have high expectations for our kids and want them to succeed. However, it is really important to avoid the temptation to push them too hard or to be negative or act discouraged if they are not athletic “superstars.” By always offering words of encouragement and love, you’ll be sure that exercise and physical activity is fun and associated with smiles and “good vibes.” This is a great way to ensure your kids will stay active as they grow into healthy adults.
Here’s to a spring and summer season of good weather and lots of outdoors activities!