7 WAYS TO ENCOURAGE KIDS TO BE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE
Hopefully, your kids are enrolled in a school that provides opportunities for physical movement, rather than making everyone sit at desks until concentration and interest fly out the window. Regardless of what your school does, you can encourage kids to be physically active at home. Perhaps especially during the summer, when oppressive heat and nothing-to-do laziness can actually make them less active than during the school year when they’re released every afternoon brimming with pent-up energy.
Here are seven ideas for promoting healthy physical activity in children:
1. Do Something with Them
Even if you work all day and come home feeling exhausted, set aside time to play catch or wrestle with the kids before bedtime. (And even if you need an hour’s rest, when you walk in the door make a point of being glad to see your children first and your armchair second!)
2. Sign Them Up for Something
Preferably, an organized activity that they genuinely enjoy and have a say in choosing: no volunteering them to get them out from underfoot; no “win at all costs” sports teams for kids who hate pressure. And remember, few people really enjoy trying to keep up with more than two activities at once.
3. Don’t Overfeed Them
Consuming excessive calories will make anyone sluggish, and perhaps trigger cramps during physical activity. In hot weather, light meals—salads, grilled fish/poultry, and small servings—should be the norm.
4. Remember the Rules of Good Health
Remind the kids to drink plenty of water, use sunscreen, not overexert themselves, and do brief light exercise before and after intense activity. To avoid chills, change perspiration-saturated clothing upon entering an air-conditioned home. And tell your children that if they feel dizzy or faint, to sit down in a cool place, take a long drink of water, and inform you promptly if they continue to feel ill.
5. In Summer, Plan Physical Activities for Early Morning and Late Evening
Consider mornings first, as right around sunrise is the coolest daylight hour. And remember that sunrise and sunset hours change with the seasons, so don’t plan things too strictly by the clock. You may want to play catch before breakfast for a while.
6. Have Both Indoor and Outdoor Options Available
Generally, outdoor activity has the advantage in both health and scenery. But in case outside heat and humidity are unbearable—or in case a thunderstorm decides to empty its clouds over your neighborhood—provide your kids with opportunities for active play indoors. If your home can’t squeeze in a basement rumpus room, buy a small trampoline or other piece of fun fitness equipment. Also, see what facilities are available at your nearest community or religious center.
7. Set an Example
Not only in doing things with your kids as in Point 1, but in having and regularly using gym memberships, bicycles, or other activities of your own. “Imitating Daddy” still provides plenty of incentive for kids. And years later, your own health will still be great and you’ll be playing actively with your grandchildren!