Get Active With Your Kids!

It brings a smile to my face to see kids outside playing. It also warms my heart to see parents outside playing with their kids. On a recent jog around town I noticed a group of girls in the 6-8 age range, wearing pretty dresses and playing tag on a front yard. It was clearly a birthday party and a mom was taking advantage of sunny day by supervising as well as participating in the outdoor activity. Further down the street I saw a dad playing basketball with a group of boys aged 10-12. Yes it was a beautiful day but no matter the weather kids of all ages will benefit by getting outdoors to play. Kids who experience an active lifestyle through parents who lead by example are more likely to stick with that lifestyle in later years. A British study found that kids who have parents who are inactive themselves have a 50% greater risk of being unfit than kids of active parents. Active parents don’t need to be superstars to be good role models. The kids just need to know that their parents encourage and support their activity and most importantly, that their parents participate in activity too.

At our booth at a home show recently, I noticed several little people being chased by their parent or grandparent. Kids like to move. The adults were trying to keep up to keep track of them. I also noticed that the only people who wanted to try our equipment on display there were kids. They were trying to ride the spin bikes, which were too big,  play on the BOSU and stability balls, or lift the dumbbells which, although only 7 pounds were too heavy for them. When we were riding the bikes to demonstrate them, comments from some passing adults, where “that looks too much like work” or “get a motorized one”. Now, not all adults were so negative, many were very positive about the activity but when and why do we change from being kids attracted to activity into adults who avoid it? What can be done to encourage our young people to continue being active as they get older? Early on, just getting out in the yard to explore uneven ground is great. Take them for short neighbourhood walks, then to a park or playground. Help them to explore climbing, jumping or skills such as riding a bike.

As they get older, organized sports can be good. Team activities provide a social aspect to a child’s development. They learn how to get along in a group and work together as a team. Great life skills. Not all kids however enjoy team sports so avoid pressuring them. As they get older, expose them to lots of different activities. Let them try swimming, skiing, bowling, tennis, soccer, biking, or just climbing on a jungle gym, lots of different things that aid their physical co-ordination and development. Exposure to different things can build confidence and perhaps make them less self conscious among peers. When a friend invites them to join them for a day of skiing or tennis they can accept with confidence.

Activity help a child’s physical development and builds confidence and self esteem.  Activity also helps prevent obesity. Kids who are overweight are often the target of bullies or turn into bullies themselves. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years. Childhood obesity sets kids up to develop adult diseases at a far too early age. Clearly something needs to be done. Start by encouraging activity for the youngest members of your family. Be sure to join your children or grandchildren in activity as often as possible. Show them you care about their health and yours.