While children are innately active beings who love to run, jump and play, childhood obesity has increased 100% since 1980. Why? Americans are busier than ever; our bodies are less active as our days become more filled with activities, this includes our children.
Physical activity provides physical, mental and emotional benefits for everyone. Regular activity helps to build strong bodies including bones, muscles, heart and lungs; improves both energy and sleep, provides for a healthy weight, reduces the chance of type 2 diabetes all the while helping to improve self esteem, academic success and concentration. It also allows for the opportunity to have fun with building relationships with new friends.
It is recommended that children ages 6 years to 17 years get at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most, if not all days of the week. This includes organized sports, household chores and daily activities like walking to school, choosing the stairs over the elevator or taking a family bike ride after dinner.
While there are not set guidelines for ages 2-5, it is important that these young, curious and naturally active children get regular activity each day, several times a day in short bursts. Activities for this age group should be developmentally appropriate and meet their needs.
As a parent, you play a crucial role in encouraging activity in your child(ren). You are their role model and their leader.
Some fun ways to encourage activity as a family include:
• Fly a kite
• Dance to your favorite music
• Jump up and down (on a trampoline even)
• Go swimming or just splash around (no pool, fill up the bath tub)
• You can also take a walk as a family, or go for a bike ride
• Go for a hike at a local park
• Make a promise to choose stairs or elevators when possible
• Walk or bike to school when safe and appropriate
• Purchase toys that encourage activity such as kites, bubbles, balls and jump ropes
Here are some fun games that can be played as a family or with some friends! Physical activity is not a chore, it’s a fun part of your day!