Over the past several years, kids have gotten less and less physical activity. In fact, a recent National Institutes of Health study found that only about half of the youth in the United States get the recommended amount of physical activity.
We know we need to get our kids moving! Reduced physical activity increases risk factors like obesity and heart disease for all ages, including kids. Plus, regular physical activity also leads to social and emotional benefits and improves our overall health and well-being.
So, how do we get kids excited about getting off the couch and away from their screens? Here are three suggestions on how to encourage kids to get more physical activity:
1. Match kids with the “right” activity.
One way to encourage kids to get more physical activity is by matching them with the “right” activity. So, what is the “right” option for your child? It’s an activity that’s appropriate for your child’s age and developmental level. At the same time, and more importantly, it’s an activity your child enjoys. Let your child explore a few different options and figure out what they enjoy the most. It’s possible that things you enjoyed as a kid, like certain sports, are different than what your son or daughter prefers. For example, your child might not be ready for or interested in a competitive sports team, but they might enjoy something more recreational, like swimming.
2. Encourage more active play.
At some point during the day, your child will inevitably sit down in front of a TV or pick up a device. You can encourage kids to limit their screen time by providing alternatives that encourage active play that gets your kids up and moving around. Things like toys, games, balls, and other pieces of equipment can motivate kids to be creative and imaginative while moving more.
3. Set an example.
Another way to encourage your kids to be more active is to set a good example. Show your kids that physical activity isn’t just something they need; it’s a priority in your life, too. Prioritize and make time to exercise. Many families end up participating in similar activities or working out at the same time of day. Use the time your child participates in a sport or activity to do a workout of your own. And always cast a positive light on being active. Talk about how staying active can improve your health and help you feel better throughout the day.
The YMCA of Greater Whittier has a lot to offer families and kids of all ages. If you’re interested in learning more about some of the different programs and activities we’re currently offering, contact us today.