All too often, kids would rather play video soccer instead of the real game, would rather watch TV than play outside. As a result, many nonactive kids face real risks for obesity, poor muscle development and long-term health problems. Here are some tips to help the kids in your life get active and stay healthy.
Know the risks. According to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, less than one-third of all kids and teens get enough exercise. That means a large number of kids face a higher risk for obesity and the diseases associated with being overweight. These include cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Encourage kids to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day or most days. Focus on activities that fit the child’s age and that she enjoys. Allow kids to try a variety of activities to find ones they like best.
Make fitness a part of family time. Spend time hiking, biking and throwing or kicking a ball around. After dinner, turn off the TV and spend some time shooting hoops or taking a walk.
Add structure if it becomes hard to schedule time for fitness. Kids and grownups alike can feel pressed for time. Look to your local park or other organization for swimming, sports or “open gym” sessions that will provide kids with fitness opportunities each week.
Think safety. Make sure the child has the equipment needed to play the sport and a safe place to play. If you have concerns about safety in your immediate neighborhood, check with your local parks, community center or school district for places where kids can play.
Keep kids involved in household chores like gardening, washing walls and windows, and picking up trash. These activities can be have as much physical benefit as regular exercise.
Teach kids not to overdo it; getting fit should be fun and not hurt.