The sad truth is that many children are not being as active as they should be these days, and in turn they are not as healthy as they could be. Studies show that only 1 in 3 children is physically active every day and about 1 out of 3 children is either overweight or obese in the U.S..
Healthychildren.org suggests these 11 ways to encourage your child to be active.
- Talk with your child's doctor. Your child's doctor can help your child understand why physical activity is important. Your child's doctor can also suggest a sport or activity that is best for your child.
- Find a fun activity. Help your child find a sport that she enjoys. The more she enjoys the activity, the more likely she will continue it. Get the entire family involved. It is a great way to spend time together.
- Choose an activity that is developmentally appropriate. For example, a 7- or 8-year-old child is not ready for weight lifting or a 3-mile run, but soccer, bicycle riding, and swimming are all appropriate activities.
- Plan ahead. Make sure your child has a convenient time and place to exercise.
- Provide a safe environment. Make sure your child's equipment and chosen site for the sport or activity are safe. Make sure your child's clothing is comfortable and appropriate.
- Provide active toys. Young children especially need easy access to balls, jump ropes, and other active toys.
- Be a role model. Children who regularly see their parents enjoying sports and physical activity are more likely to do so themselves.
- Play with your child. Help her learn a new sport.
- Turn off the TV. Limit TV watching and computer use. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 to 2 hours of total screen time, including TV, videos, computers, and video games, each day. Use the free time for more physical activities.
- Make time for exercise. Some children are so over-scheduled with homework, music lessons, and other planned activities that they do not have time for exercise.
- Do not overdo it. When your child is ready to start, remember to tell her to listen to her body. Exercise and physical activity should not hurt. If this occurs, your child should slow down or try a less vigorous activity. As with any activity, it is important not to overdo it. If your child's weight drops below an average, acceptable level or if exercise starts to interfere with school or other activities, talk with your child's doctor.