As a parent, if you’ve asked this question once, you’ve asked it a million times. It’s only natural to worry about your child’s health.
Children and young adults should minimise the amount of time they spend doing stationary activities. This means getting their bodies moving outside the pushchair. It also means being very careful about TV and video games. If you can live without a television, go for it!
Children Below Five Years-Old
Surely a child under the age of five doesn’t need to worry about exercise? Wrong. Small ones need to spend as much time as possible moving around to the best of their ability. Three hours a day is the recommended guideline. This could be crawling around in the garden or going for a toddle in the local park. Keeping your child stationary stops his or her body from developing as it should.
Children Between Five and Eighteen
As soon as your children hit their fifth birthday, they should be getting one hour of aerobic exercise a day. There must be moderate and vigorous exercise included in this, as well as exercise that strengthens muscles and bones. Getting teenagers to take up physical activity can be tricky, so create good habits from a very young age.
How Can You Help Your Child?
The best way to encourage your child to exercise is to go along with them. Make physical activity a big part of family life. Also, encourage your kids to play with friends and join active sports teams. Ask them first what they’d like to do – if your son wants to dance, enrol him in the nearest ballet club; if your daughter dreams of being a martial arts expert, send her to jujitsu to learn some self-defence!
If your child has made friends at school, introduce yourself to his or her parents. Maybe you could invite them over for dinner to get to know them better. Once you’ve forged this bond, you can start encouraging your children to bring their friends over for games in the garden. It’s amazing how much fun they can have, with little effort on your part.
Be a role model. Practice what you preach. Start getting healthy and living the lifestyle you want your children to lead. They take inspiration from you as they grow up and it means that you can benefit from regular exercise too. A child will copy any lazy habits you have.
Praise your little ones as much as possible. If they’ve had a big day full of activities, reward them with a day-off from chores or let them play on their games console for the rest of the evening. The positive reinforcement will stick with them better than threats of punishment if they don’t go and run around outside after school.
Your recommended exercise is 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, and many parents aren’t getting even the bare minimum for a healthy lifestyle. If you can keep up with your children, you’re doing well! Chin up, trainers on, and get out there!
This post has been contributed for Playrite, who provide synthetic surfaces for multi-use game areas in universities, schools and health clubs.