Did you know that only one in three children are physically active every day? Needless to say, it’s important that children get enough exercise in their daily lives for both physical and mental well-being. Here are 5 things parents can do to encourage exercise.
#1 Get creative
Not all children are drawn to organised activities at school, such as playing soccer, rugby, hockey or the other sports offered as part of the school’s extra-curricular programme.
If your child is one of them, look for other activities they may enjoy, such as mountain biking, dancing, rock climbing, or martial arts. It may take some time, trial and error until your child has found their niche, but keep trying different ideas until something works and sparks an interest. The more your child enjoys the exercise, the more likely they are to continue with it.
#2 Plan ahead
Set aside a convenient time and place for the activity or exercise – the easier it is to coordinate, the more likely that both you and your child will be able to keep to the routine.
#3 Turn off the TV
The more time a child spends in front of a screen, the less time they spend being active. This applies to all screen time – TV, tablets, smartphones and other devices that cause children to become sedentary. Children should have no more than 1-2 hours of total screen time.
Provide toys such as balls, skipping ropes, bicycles and trampolines so that you can redirect your child’s attention from the screen to something more active.
#4 Don’t overdo it
Like everything in life, good exercise should be balanced and shouldn’t take over your child’s life. Tell your child to listen to his body, and to slow down or stop what he’s doing if the physical activity starts to hurt. Remember that your children also need appropriate sleep and rest.
#5 Get involved
Be a role model to your children, as children who see their parents enjoying physical activity are more likely to do so themselves.
Taking part in activities with your child can also be a great bonding experience, with the added benefit of exercise for both of you.