According to statistics, just 7 percent of young children in Canada get enough exercise. Guidelines from the Canadian government and the World Health Organization recommend 60 minutes of moderate physical activity per day for children aged between 5 and 17 years old. If you’re a parent, are your kids getting enough exercise? If you’re worried that your children spend too much time watching TV or you’re keen to get more active as a family, here are some simple ways you can get moving more.
Why is exercise so important for children?
Exercise has a wealth of benefits for children of all ages. Physical activity aids growth and development, and it helps to build strength, improve circulation, and strengthen the bones. Children who are active on a regular basis also have a lower risk of developing obesity and associated complications such as type 2 diabetes. Rates of child obesity are the highest they have ever been in Canada and the US, and children who are obese have a much higher risk of being obese in adulthood.
Playing sports can also have incredible benefits for children’s mental health and wellbeing. Being part of a team encourages cohesion and improves social skills. Children learn to set targets, and try and reach goals, and they gain ambition and confidence. Sports can also teach kids how to play by the rules, and how to be gracious in both victory and defeat. Exercise is also proven to reduce stress. If your child has had a bad day, they can let off steam and have fun playing games with their friends or kicking a ball around in the back garden.
Easy ways to be more active
In this day and age, most of us live sedentary lives. Adults tend to have jobs that involve sitting down for long periods of time, and kids are drawn to activities like watching TV and movies and playing computer games. If you’re not as active as you should be, there are some simple ways to add more physical activity to your daily regime. Here are some tips.
Make use of your garden
Have you got a beautiful garden, which you hardly ever use? Or do you tend to spend all your time catching rays or chatting to friends over a glass of wine? If so, there’s nothing wrong with using your garden as a social space, but don’t overlook its potential as a resource that could help you get fit. Try and make sure your garden is child-friendly. If you currently have a pristine lawn or an ornamental garden filled with water features and pagodas, you probably don’t want your kids throwing balls around or running around like bulls in a china shop. It’s fine for you to have your space and design a garden that looks stunning. But it’s important to have a backyard that works for everyone.
If you’re keen to use your garden more, and you want your children to be more active, you can kill two birds with one stone by creating an area for them. If you get in touch with an artificial grass supplier, you can lay down a patch of lawn, which is perfect for playing football, soccer, and badminton. When you’ve got great facilities at home, you can spend as much time as possible out in the open air. Exercise as a family, and you can enjoy quality time together as well as getting fit.
Walk whenever possible
Be honest. Do you take the car out all the time when you could easily walk? Most of us have become reliant on our cars, and we’ll get behind the wheel even when we’re only popping to the store or dropping the kids at a play date. If you are going somewhere within walking distance, leave the car at home, save yourself gas money, and get your legs moving. If you get used to walking, you’ll soon find that it becomes second nature. Walking isn’t just good for your body, it’s also good for your mind. Being out in the fresh air energizes you, and it can also help you to feel less stressed.
Limit time in front of the TV
Some kids would rather play computer games than run around the yard and shoot some hoops. It’s fine to enjoy watching movies and playing on a games console, but don’t let your kids spend every spare minute they have in front of a screen. Set times, and alternate these activities with more active pursuits. Spend time in the garden, and organize days out that involve exercise. Plan bike rides, go to the park or the beach armed with some outdoor games, or visit a national park and take a hike in the mountains or hire some kayaks.
Try different sports
One of the main reasons kids don’t get enough exercise is a lack of enjoyment. For many children, their experience of sports is limited to school gym classes. If your child isn’t naturally gifted when it comes to football, soccer or baseball, they may have a negative perception of sports. If this is the case, try and make exercise fun, and introduce your kids to different activities. There are so many different sports out there, and you’re bound to find one they enjoy. Go to a climbing wall, a skate park, a skating rink or a swimming pool, and be open-minded. Offer your children reassurance, and teach them that you don’t have to be the next big thing to get enjoyment out of playing sports.
If you’re a parent, your child’s health is probably your biggest priority. As a parent, you want your kids to be happy and healthy. Today, most children don’t get enough exercise, but you can change this. Get moving as a family, spend time in the garden, and plan outdoor adventures. Try new activities, make exercise fun, and adopt healthy habits like walking or cycling instead of taking the car. You should notice a big difference in a very short space of time.
Are your kids getting enough exercise??