RAISING FIT KIDS
Some children are natural born athletes. They come out of the womb looking for their first pair of athletic shoes. Other kids are more reluctant. They might not be naturally coordinated – or competitive. In either case, you’re giving your child a lifelong gift if you give them a love for fitness.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
Fitness is important for so many aspects of one’s life. Disease prevention. Weight control. Mood enhancement. Appearance. Heart health. The ability to rescue a kitten from a burning building. All of these are noble achievements made easier by being fit.
As a parent – you can be a role model.
HOW TO GET STARTED
Remember that it takes 30 days to make a new habit.
Also – that it’s better to start early rather than to try to play catch-up later.
HERE ARE A FEW WAYS TO GET FITNESS
AND ACTIVITY INTO YOUR FAMILY LIFE
- Walk after dinner. Instead of sitting down in front of the TV/laptop/smartphone, head for the great outdoors. Make taking a walk the automatic post-dinner activity. Keep the conversation light. This is not the time to go over your child’s grades or chores. If it’s fun for everyone, you’ll all want to keep doing it.
- Active play/move for one hour daily. It can be a mix of aerobics (such as running and fast walking), muscle strengthening (pushups) and bone strengthening (jumping rope). School time counts in this one-hour goal. Keep track on a kitchen calendar so everyone is accountable (you too Mom and Dad!)
- Count steps. Kids love gadgets. You can use a step counter, or a smartphone app, or a fitness tracker. Make it fun! How many steps to the telephone pole? How quickly can you take 80 steps? Have them try and beat their personal record for steps per day.
- Use equipment. You don’t need a trampoline. A simple affordable jump rope or an inflatable beach ball can do the trick. Keep a stash of outdoor toys hidden and then surprise them with one when your kid(s) seem bored.
- Go somewhere. We don’t know why – but fitness seems easier to work into your day when you’re at a natural “fitness location.” Make regular trips to a playground, beach, ball field or park.
- Take a class. Sometimes this is the springboard for a child to develop a passion for fitness through dance, aikido, tennis or yoga.
- Play movement video games. The whole family can play if you’ve got a game system with a motion sensor, like the Kinect or Wii. Games can be rented or borrowed.
- Make it fun. Jump in a pile of leaves. Make a snow angel. Toss a ball. Hula hoop. Walk to the library. Make it part of your everyday life to be active. This is where you can be an example.
- Offer encouragement. Don’t give up if your child doesn’t take to something right away. Praise the steps even if the race wasn’t completed.
- Be a role model. If you’ve found your activity passion, and they see you doing something on a regular basis, they may emulate you – even if they pick a different activity than yours.
- Be sly (it’s OK!). There’s no harm in sneaking in some activity. Park away from the door (no door dings). Take the stairs (it’s quicker). Carry the groceries out instead of using the cart (builds muscles).
Whatever you do, when your child becomes an adult, he or she will thank you for putting them on a good path to good health through fitness.