Did you ever think you'd have to coax your child to go outside and play? Unfortunately, screen time now competes with outdoor play and sports. While your kids may not think of football, tag, or hide-and-seek as healthy ways to stay active, these fun games can actually help your children get their recommended daily dose of physical activity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Sadly, research shows that most kids do not—only 21.6 percent of kids ages 6 to 19 are meeting physical activity guidelines. Adults aren't doing any better: only 20.9 percent meet the current Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity.
Scheduling exercise into your busy life may seem daunting, but the benefits go way beyond just physical health, for both you and your children. It can help you:
- increase energy
- improve self-image
- manage stress better
- build strong bones and muscles
- improve sleep habits
- maintain a healthy weight
- improve concentration and memory
One of the best things you can do for your child is to make regular exercise a family activity. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, your child is more likely to be active if you are. Here are four ways to stay active that the whole family can enjoy together:
1. Have a Dance Party
Pump up the volume on your radio or electronic device and throw your hands in the air like you just don't care. Jump, shimmy, twirl, dip, and shake it. Dancing is an easy way to burn calories, break a sweat, have fun, and get moving.
2. Play Ball
You don't need a whole team to throw a ball around in your backyard or at a park. Grab a football, a baseball and mitt, a basketball, or even a Frisbee. If you have the yard space, a badminton set can lead to some fun, healthy family competition.
3.Go for a Walk or Bike Ride
Instead of relaxing in front of the television after dinner, go for a family walk or bike ride. While you can enjoy these activities at any time, they're an especially good substitute for internet surfing or vegging out on the couch.
4. Make the Most of TV Commercials
It's unlikely that you will forgo television time with your family altogether, but by combining couch time with active time, you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Do drills like running in place, push-ups, jumping jacks, or sit-ups during advertisements.
When you lead by example, your kids will be a lot more likely to want to go out and play. You'll also be getting your daily dose of exercise, all while enjoying some quality family time.
By Joelle Klein
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Family Play Time
PBS Parents: Encouraging Family Fitness and Healthy Habits
Kidshealth.org: Motivating Kids to Be Active
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity Statistics
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity do Children Need?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Exercise or Physical Activity FastStats
SHAPE America: Press release: Less than one quarter of children . . .