It seems like every generation of parents say it: kids today just aren’t as active as they used to be. That’s because the more technology advances, the less desire kids have to move around actively. Instead they tend to prefer sitting on the couch playing games or browsing Facebook (for those 12 and older).
And every generation, parents reminisce about their childhood. Remember when we used to go outside and climb trees, pretend our bikes were horses, run through sprinklers, and play in the rain? Adults always think their youth was filled with more activity than their kids show.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. While kids may be just as active, or more inactive, than we were in our youth, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t encourage them with fun, motivating activities that will keep them on the go for at least 60 minutes a day.
First Lady Michelle Obama created a government program called Let’s Move in order to help parents and kids better understand how to become healthier by simple lifestyle choices. One of the focuses in the program is to encourage kids and teens to become active for at least 60 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 6 to 8 weeks. Between that and recommended healthy alternatives to eating unhealthy foods, the idea of the program is to help people learn to adjust to a healthier way of living in order to combat the obesity trends in the US.
The program isn’t just for kids and teens either. There is another group of recommendations for adults age 18 and older. That means that we as parents can set a good example by going through the program with our kids.
The questions is, what can we do to initiate more activity in our kids? There are a few simple solutions.
Encourage Outdoor Activities
There are a number of great games that kids can play outside during the day or at night (with supervision) that do not require much of an investment in money:
- Jumping rope
- Follow the Leader
- Simon Says
- Red Rover
- Hide and Seek
- and more…
These games usually go over best with kids between the ages of 6 to 12. Teenagers can be a bit more particular about what they are willing to do. From ages 12 to 16 encourage your kid to ride their bicycle to their friend’s house or to the store for you.
Promote Physical Activities
This is a little different from backyard games. Physical activities can be anything from taking a karate class to going skating with friends. If your kid wants to take up skating, make sure you find skates that fit well. There are a number of different styles to fit each need, and you can find adjustable inline skates like the ones on this site, so your kid can grow into them instead of out of them. There are different inline skates for different skill levels as well.
Give a Chores List
No kid likes doing chores once they realize it’s real work and not just helping mommy or daddy. While this may not go over as well as a game of flashlight tag in the backyard, it helps keep the house clean (which promotes better health), teaches them to clean, and gets them moving. The chores can be anything from doing dishes to picking up toys to dusting the shelves or scrubbing the bathroom. No matter what it is, or what they think of it, a chores list is one way to get kids moving.
There is a good chance that a kid with parents who appreciate nature will grow up to do so as well. Get the kids into the great outdoors by joining them in a variety of activities:
- Hike local nature trails and teach your kid about the different parts of nature as you go.
- Start a garden in the backyard that you can tend together. This gives kids great skills to grow up and do it on their own.
- Go for walks in places you have never been before. It’s an adventure for everyone!
- Plant a tree that they can watch grow as they do.
- Swim in the local lake or pool.
There are endless possibilities in nature. No matter where nature takes you, your kid will be outside and active, two things that are very good for them.
Set an Example
Kids follow the lead their parents give them. That means if you spend your time watching TV, your kids are likely to do that as well. If you spend time outside gardening, your kids will learn to enjoy it as well. Even what you eat has a significant impact on the choices your child will make as they grow. If you eat healthier, your kid will too.
No matter what you choose to do, remember that the idea is to make kids want to be active, so try to keep the activities fun. They will want to do that again.
For more ideas on how to keep kids active, read the article published by Ask, Listen, Learn, 25 Activities to Keep Kids Active.