It may seem a bit harsh to call your kids lazy, but if the vast majority of their time is spent sitting in front of a monitor or mobile device, it’s definitely time to start finding ways to curb a sedentary lifestyle and get your children up and moving. According to the CDC report on the “Prevalence of Childhood Obesity in the United States, 2011-2014”, which pertains to youths age 2-19, childhood obesity affects roughly 12.7 million children and adolescents, which amounts to about 17% of kids.
A failure to adopt a healthy level of activity early in life can not only lead to obesity, but it could affect children throughout their lives, increasing risks for diseases ranging from diabetes, to heart disease, to certain cancers and more, especially for children that are overweight. As a parent, it is your responsibility to keep children healthy and happy to the best of your ability, and this means finding ways to encourage and motivate them to stay fit.
How can you accomplish this goal, especially when you’re a busy parent that has a job and other obligations? Here are a few tips to get your lazy children to exercise, and maybe work some healthy activity into your own day in the process.
Make it a Family Mission
It’s not easy to make exercise a priority, as many busy adults are well aware. However, the best way to get your kids interested in an active lifestyle is to set a good example. If you’re prone to plopping down in front of the TV in your leisure time, it should come as no surprise when your kids follow suit. In other words, you need to exercise with children if you want them to make it a priority.
When you make it a family mission to improve your health through increased activity, everyone can get involved. How can you get started? Begin by limiting screen time, not just for your children, but for yourself. Suppose you limit the household to just an hour each day spent on devices (including TV, email, texting, and so on). You might suddenly find yourself with a lot of spare time on your hands.
This is time that could be spent going for walks around the neighborhood, playing at the park, hiking in local wilderness areas, riding bikes, swimming, or playing sports in the backyard, just for example. You might even take other healthy steps like planting a garden and spending time on healthy meal planning to enhance your efforts where exercise is concerned. Changing your lifestyle won’t be easy, but when you do it together as a family, you increase everyone’s chances for success.
Okay, you don’t actually have to try everything, but you need to be aware that not every type of activity appeals to everyone. For example, you likely have preferences when going to the gym. Some people prefer to use gym equipment while others would rather sign up for classes. Or maybe you hate the gym and you’d rather hike, bike, or kayak in the great outdoors.
The same basic principle applies to your kids. Some will like team sports, some will enjoy jogging, and other might like swimming, just for example. Some kids will like games with strategy involved, like capture the flag or laser tag. It could take some time to figure out what kids enjoy, but once you do you’ll have a much easier time getting them off the couch and moving around.
Enroll in Extracurricular Activities
Getting involved as a family and trying out different types of exercise are both great ways to get kids into action. However, there are definitely further opportunities to keep children active. If there’s something they enjoy and that they’re good at, look into extracurricular activities offered through school, parks and rec, the YMCA, or other organizations. This can help to keep kids on a schedule with exercise and allow them the opportunity to socialize with peers at the same time.
If you want to take your efforts to the next level as a family, think about signing up for local events like charity races. You can start simple with a 5K that every can participate in, and help to raise money for a worthy cause in the process.
If separating kids from their technology is like cutting off a limb, try to find ways to incorporate tech into your exercise routine. It’s the old “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” strategy. You can research what is the best kids Fitbit, look for fun exercise apps, or even find devices like smart shoes or smart soccer balls that have built-in sensors to monitor movement, track progress, and deliver feedback.