We all know the benefits of being active – healthy muscles and bones, decreased risk for diabetes and heart disease, and improved sleep. But what if your kids aren’t as excited about those benefits or moving their bodies as you might be?
If this sounds like your household, you’re not alone. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 3 out of 4 children don’t get the recommended 60 minutes of active time each day. Not only that but staying active tends to decrease as kids get older. So what stops kids from being active? Some of the reasons could include:
- Increased focus on schoolwork or other demands.
- Not feeling as “good” at physical activity as their peers.
- Lack of role models and designated time to move their bodies.
While it may seem like these obstacles to a dwindling activity level are inevitable, you and your child can take steps to stay consistently active. Let’s take a look at some top tips for motivating kids to move their bodies at an age:
- Focus on fun and feeling good! The great thing about physical activity is that kids can pick what feels good to them. They don’t need to run, lift weights, or play a sport to get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity. They can practice stretching, walking, or riding their bike. When kids are moving their bodies, what’s most important is that they are safe and feel great while doing it!
- Validate their interests in movement opportunities. Once your child finds a movement they enjoy, validate it! Do they enjoy walking outside? Go for a walk with them! Do they like throwing a ball? Try playing catch with them or if possible, get involved in recreational sports leagues if they’d like. Some programs even offer grants to cover youth sports registration fees!
- Try some active play toys. Active play requires movement during play and is usually unplanned and self-directed. Active play toys such as balls, jump ropes, sensory paths, or play sets, especially at an early age can help introduce movement to children. By getting familiar with active play toys early on, kids may continue to feel comfortable with similar movement activities as they age.
- Plan family active time. As kids get older, be intentional about planning active time together. By showing kids the importance of making time to move their bodies, they’re more likely to do that independently as they age. Plus, this can be a great time to build connections with your kids. Try going for a walk or hike or check out a new fitness class together.
- Be a role model. Similar to showing kids how to intentionally make time for physical activity, it’s important to demonstrate a healthy relationship with movement in verbal and non-verbal ways. Work on your own unhealthy habits and share your changes with your family. Once your kids see you taking steps to change, they’re more likely to make changes alongside you. When having conversations around movement, avoid talking about exercise or physical activity as a chore or something you don’t enjoy. Approaching movement with a positive mindset will encourage your kids to do the same!
No matter what, remember that being active doesn’t have to be complicated. The most important thing is to get your child moving and feeling good while being safe!
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