As a parent, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your child is raised with an awareness of, and appreciation for, a healthy lifestyle, encompassing regular exercise and a balanced diet. Indeed, alongside eating nutritious meals and snacks, those encouraged to undertake at least three 25-minute workouts each week will develop stronger bones and muscles, reduce their risk of becoming overweight, improve their immune system and metabolism, and decrease their chances of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, and even some cancers. Children who regularly work out and exercise are more likely to concentrate on their studies, and maintain a positive outlook on life.
Despite much evidence in support of exercise, a recent study published in the medical journal Health Affairs revealed that less than one-third of American children are “active to a healthy level.” This means that more than two-thirds of children are facing futures dominated by weight and mobility-related illnesses and conditions, which may, in turn, affect the health and wellbeing of their own children. It has never been more important to encourage our children to get fit and stay healthy, but it has also never been more difficult to motivate them to exercise. When the lure of computer games and television and the constraints placed upon us by modern life take over, just how can you encourage your child to engage with physical activity?
Introduce exercise every day
First and foremost, parents should lead by example; our children tend to pick up the habits and attitudes that we adopt for ourselves, and so it’s important to show your child how exercising benefits the lives of each of your family members. Turn exercise into a normal part of your everyday lives and routine, including walking as much as possible, getting off and on the bus or subway a stop earlier than usual, or taking the family dog for long strolls each day. Encourage your whole family to interact with the outside world as much as possible, and don’t allow the weather to get you down.
All the gear and some idea
We all like to look and feel the part when we’re heading to a workout or class, and our children are no exception; ensuring that your child is appropriately clothed for the activity that they’re about to undertake will provide motivation, and enable them to complete the session in comfort. Compression clothing is particularly important when it comes to exercise as it supports muscles, improves circulation, and prevents the discomfort that trapped moisture can often introduce to a workout. Wearing the right gear will set your child in good stead for a healthy future, so do take your time to seek more info, and research the benefits of items such as youth compression sleeves.
Make the most of technology
You’ve perhaps noticed how enthusiastic, and indeed reliant, your child is when it comes to technology; whatever hobbies they’re into, your kids no doubt spend at least an hour or two a day connected to a cell phone, mobile device, or games console – or are at least computer-savvy. Why not make that technology work for you, and for them, in other ways? There are numerous step-counting devices and activity-logging apps available these days, and many are designed with children’s engagement in mind. There’s even an app that allows children to convert their mileage into a food package for a disadvantaged child somewhere else in the world. Investigate the apps that would encourage your child to head outside.
Ensure that exercise is fun
Exercise should be fun rather than a chore, so take the time to discuss the kinds of physical activity that attract your child. Is there a particular sport, club, or charity event that your child would like to join or take part in? Sports can be a great way to involve a child with their peers, helping them to make new friends as they work out. Training for a fundraising event is another way to introduce the rewards of exercise, and to keep your child motivated on an end goal. Most importantly, mix things up a little each week; however fun a particular activity is, it can get boring when you’re doing the same things over and over again. Don’t be afraid to suggest new activities that your child can accomplish alongside their regular clubs.
Educate as you motivate
Above all, aim to educate your child as you gently encourage them to exercise; children are far more receptive to instructions when they understand why it is they’re being asked to do something. Rather than commanding your child to run faster, walk further, or play better, explain that exercise is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle, and that we must all endeavor to get out and do a little more each day. Rather than seeing exercise as a burden, your child will now view exercise has a healthy, normal part of everyday life, and be encouraged to try new things with a view to staying healthy.
It really needn’t be difficult to motivate your child to exercise, as long as you’re able to provide a little variety and encouragement along the way. Aim to use screen time as a reward, rather than a pre-determined daily activity, and ensure that the whole family is able to join in your new healthier initiative. In no time at all, your whole family will be witnessing the benefits of increased activity, and feeling the better for it.