Making exercise a priority is a challenge for everyone. For parents it can be difficult to find time to workout because of the full plates that they often juggle, whereas for many kids, biking to the playground and playing kickball in the backyard have given way to watching television, playing video games and spending hours online.
Wonder how much physical activity is enough? Consider these guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services:
· Kids. Children and adolescents age 6 and older need at least an hour a day of physical activity. Most of the hour should be either moderate or vigorous aerobic activity. In addition, children should participate in muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities at least three days a week.
· Adults. Most healthy adults need at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking or swimming, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running — preferably spread throughout the week. Adults also need strength training exercises at least twice a week.
The big question is how to make physical activity a priority that fits into your busy schedules. Well, it’s actually easier than you may think. With a little planning you can find ways to incorporate physical activity into the time you spend with your children. Here are some tips to help you and your kids to get moving!
First and Foremost, Set a good example
A parent’s active lifestyle can be a powerful stimulus to their child. Therefore, if you want an active child, be active yourself. For example, relive recess and invite your family to play catch or join you on a walk. Be sure to talk about physical activity as an opportunity to take care of your body, rather than a punishment or a chore.
Limit Screen Time
A surefire way to increase you and your child’s activity level is to limit the number of hours spent in front of a screen — including television, video games and online activities. If your child plays video games, opt for those that require movement and join in on the game. Wii and X Box 360 Kinect have fun, action packed games for the entire family, such as, Wii Sports Resort, Family Party: Fitness Fun, Kinect Sports, and Just Dance.
Establish a routine
Set aside time each day for physical activity. Get up early with your child to walk the dog, take a walk together after dinner, or make Saturdays or Sundays family bike outing or rollerblading day. Start small, gradually adding new activities to the routine as you — and your child — become more fit.
Promote Activity, Not Exercise
To keep your child interested in physical activity, make it fun:
· Get in the game. Play catch, get the whole family involved in a game of tag or have a jump-rope contest. Try classic movement games such as Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light (my personal preference!).
· Try an activity party. For your child’s next birthday, schedule a bowling party, take the kids to a climbing wall or set up relay races outside.
· Give the gift of activity. Offer activity-related equipment, games or outings as gifts and rewards — both for your child and others.
· Make A Splash– For pool outings, don’t just spend time soaking up the sun. Walk back and forth in shallow water while your kids have fun splashing about or challenge your kids to a race across the pool.
· Shop it off – Your teens will love this idea, plus you’ll torch approximately 11 calories for every outfit you try on.
· Do the Dirty Work– Have your kids help you clean the yard, wash your car, or go grocery shopping. It will lessen your workload while also getting the kids off the couch and into good habits!
Exercise along with a balanced diet provides the foundation for a healthy, active life. One of the most important things parents can do is encourage healthy habits in their children early on in life. It is never too late to start getting fit fast!