There was a time when kids just kind of kept themselves in shape; overweight kids were the exception. Nowadays, however, with childhood obesity on the rise, parents, teachers, and caregivers are all finding it necessary to implement fitness programs and encourage fit lifestyles for kids.
So how can you teach your child healthy fitness habits that will stay with them for a lifetime? Here are some ideas.
Let your kids in on your fitness routine. (Don’t have one? There’s the first step – implement one!) Have them come along on your morning walk or run, or let them do a workout video with you. It might take some time to get them integrated, but it introduces them to the concept of regular workouts and the idea that exercise is fun. This also puts you in the position of positive role model for your kids.
Playtime = Fitness Time
Children are naturally playful. Engaging in free play is one of the best ways to encourage them to get in shape and develop healthy habits. Toddlers like to dance and be active at all kinds of play, as do preschoolers. Older kids may enjoy playing sports or just running races with their friends.
If it’s snowing, get the kids to go outside and play in it; in the fall, rake leaves into piles and jump in. Spring and summer provide all kinds of outdoor possibilities. The point is to deliberately integrate active play time into your child’s day.
Make the Time
Because we tend to expect fitness to come naturally to kids, many families neglect to schedule it in. But these days, that’s an important step. Make sure your kids have the time to be active and move around. Sometimes, we spend a lot of our day telling our children to be still, be quiet, pay attention, and so forth. Try to schedule in some time when your child can be physically active.
Playgrounds exist for a reason – play! Make it a point to take your child to a playground several times a week. Make playdates with other moms and kids if you like, and make it a regular thing. When the weather gets bad, see if you can continue your habit in an indoor play area, community center gym, or church fellowship hall.
Signing your kids up for sports is a great idea, but if your child is the shy type, he or she may benefit more from family sports. Also, if the family participates, it encourages Mom and Dad to exercise, too.