7 Ways to Get Your Kids Active

Most kids growing up in the 21st century have technology to keep them busy. My son asks permission to go for a “play”date to his friend’s house to play video games on a regular basis. As parents, we all do our best to find the right balance between understanding that technology is here to stay and wanting our kids to get outside and be active. Each parent approaches this topic as it aligns with his or her belief and family dynamic. Unfortunately, as parents have become super busy, and technology often the choice of entertainment for many children, we have to plan ahead and be creative to keep our kids active every day. Just think of the last time you watched children playing at a playground and the first thought that comes to mind is ‘don’t they get tired?’ Their bodies are simply designed to play!

The growing up process for children involves physical activity and research has shown that children who have at least an hour of play every day as they are growing up help develop strong bones, healthy weight, and enhanced learning. Through play, in addition to discovering the world around them, children also use physical activity to develop self-confidence. The more they push their limits, the more they have increased awareness of their abilities and work on their limitations when they see others achieving in something.

Despite the fact that sometimes there are some barriers like security and safety issues that limit playing outside, parents can still cultivate in their children habits of staying active. You do not have to play a specific way but by inventing your own games, children can still manage to have fun and learn in these modern times.

7 Fun Ways to get Kids Active:

  • Make cycling or walking to and from school fun by settling on interesting things to identify along the way – for example, you can start with identifying colors worn by people, how many different species of bugs can you see? or counting the number of cars of a certain color.
  • Plant a garden together. Getting kids to plant fruits or vegetables in pots, raised boxes, or in the ground, or whatever you have, will work fine. Choosing seeds, planting and encouraging your kids to get outside every day to water, weed and pick the fruits of their labor not only gets them outside and moving but teaches them to how their food is grown.
  • Take advantage of the warm months to register with your kids in a walk for a cure/ cause that means something to them and your family. Whether it’s supporting pets, raising money for those less fortunate or for a disease that has touched your heart in some way. Getting out, raising money and being active together as a family is a great feeling at any age.
  • There are dedicated places in parks and other parts of the city where children of all ages meet on specific days to share their passion for a particular sport. Skateboarding or scootering parks are popular for this and if your kids have even the slightest interest, either to watch or participate, you can take them there to interact with others. This is a good way of cultivating interest in a specific sport and make new friends.
  • Adventure is part and parcel of growing up; what will be your children’s favorite memories of their childhood? Help them to build a tree house or a den over the school holidays, plan a scavenger hunt or family hikes. Get creative and have fun!
    Do you have a dog? When it is time to take the dog out for a walk, ask your kids to come along so that they may learn how to do it and also get outdoors.
  • This one is a little controversial. It is an attempt at combining our kids’ love of gaming with fitness. The Pokémon Go app is here; as a parent you either love it or it drives you crazy. Whichever side you are on, I thought it was worth mentioning as my son has never asked me before if he can go walk 5 km? He wants to hatch some egg… but a 5 km request from an 8-year-old does not go unnoticed.

These are simple ideas and a great place to start. A few years ago, I began asking my family to take a 15-20 minute walk after dinner. This not only got in a little exercise in the evening but it supported healthy digestion of their meal, helped them wind down and have a more restful sleep throughout the night. Are you concerned that your children do not sleep enough? Try engaging them in gentle activities that tire their body and mind, then sleep will come naturally! Children who express themselves through physical activity are also less likely to fall sick because movement supports our immune system, promotes healthy growth and results in a more positive outlook on life.

For more health and wellness ideas for kids check out my Kids Corner Page 

Resources

  1. http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/parenting/school-age/fun-ways-to-keep-your-kids-active
  2. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/childhealth6-15/Pages/Getactivewithyourkids.aspx
  3. http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/active-kids.html