Every year it seems harder and harder to get kids off the couch, or to put down the iPad for a minute and go out for some fresh air and exercise. This is hardly surprising when you consider the average child or teen spends 7 hours a day either watching TV or using computers, phones, and other electronic devices for entertainment. In fact, recent studies show that only 1 in 3 kids are active everyday, and over one quarter of children aged 5-17 are considered overweight or obese*. And there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that these shocking numbers are continuing to get worse. (*In medical terms ‘overweight’ is generally defined as a condition where a person’s weight is 10 to 20 percent higher than ‘normal’, as defined by a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 30. ‘Obesity’ is generally defined as a condition in which a person’s weight is 20 percent or more above ‘normal’ weight, or has a BMI of 30 or more.)
Of great concern for you as a parent, is that overweight children have a 70% chance of becoming an overweight or obese adult. And as we know this leads to a range of physical, mental and social problems such as…
So when you look at the negative side-effects of being overweight it becomes clear that as a parent, encouraging your kids to be healthy and active is one of the most beneficial things you can do for them, for both immediate and long-term development, health and happiness. The good news is that kids naturally enjoy playing, being active and running around with friends. All you need to do is help encourage exercise as part of their daily routine, and that’s what this article will help you with.
It’s important to have times of the day when electronics are not to be used. Of course in today’s world technology is a part of daily life for school, communication and entertainment, but there needs to be scheduled times for the use of these devices, otherwise they can quickly become the dominating focus of a child’s life.
If exercise isn’t fun it’ll be hard to get your child excited to participate consistently. That’s why it’s important to research a range of activities and sports and find one that suits your child’s personality, age, ability, and most importantly, one they enjoy. Holiday sports camps are a great way to trial different sports.
Life can be busy for both you and your child, especially teenagers. And it can be easy to skip or simply forget to make time for activity times if they aren’t scheduled into their calendar. Sports with specific training and game times are ideal for keeping a regular routine of exercise.
Every child has idols they look up to. So it’s important that you actively introduce your child to quality role models who promote a healthy lifestyle. You as a parent are also a huge role model for your child and can help by leading by example and participating in regular exercise as well.
Not every parent feels comfortable letting their kids run around the streets like we used to a generation ago. And depending where you live this may not be practical. So providing your child with a safe, supervised environment where they can play without worry will help encourage more daily activity. Also ensuring the equipment they use is of high safety standards is important too.
If you can find an activity that your kids can share with their friends, they’ll be much more enthusiastic. So, talk to the other parents at school or play dates and find activities they can do together. Team sports such as Soccer, cricket, Aussie Rules Football, Netball, Basketball and Rugby are great for getting active, meeting new friends and increasing self-esteem.
The most important factor is that you encourage and help your child become more active. Drive them to practice, find fun activities or programs to do over school holidays, be enthusiastic when they show an interest in a new sport or activity and educate them about the importance of regular exercise. Encouraging your child to be more active during these crucial development years can lead to a lifetime of benefits that promote happiness and success across all aspects of life, including:
A great first step to getting kids involved in sports and activity are programs and camps run over the school holidays. These programs offer a wide range of sports to choose from, so your child can try different ones to see which ones they enjoy the most before committing to an entire season or buying equipment that may end up at the back of the garage. Australian Sport Camps is one of the largest and longest running sport camps providers for boys and girls aged 6-16. With professional coaches, celebrity talent appearances and a focus on fun, fitness and making new friends they are the perfect way to get your child started on the road to a healthy active life. See our upcoming camps here for more information.