There’s no denying it: American kids are getting bigger. In fact, the number of obese teens has tripled over the last three decades. If your kids aren’t getting the minimum 60 minutes of daily activity recommended for children younger than 18 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s time to involve them in some age-appropriate activities that encourage them to get moving.
For children who aren’t yet school age, experts recommend “free play.” This means encouraging them to go outside and run around – with proper supervision, of course. Take them to the playground, teach them how to play tag and hide-and-seek, toss them a ball to chase, even if they’re too young to catch it. The point is to keep them moving.
Show your kids how to take advantage of the sights and sounds of the season. Organize a sledding party, build a snowman or make snow angels to enjoy the winter weather. Your little ones may even like helping parents clear off the sidewalks or driveway. This will help teach them that being active doesn’t have to be boring.
For school-age kids
Once kids reach school age, they can begin playing sports and become involved in other group activities. Younger children benefit from activities such as ballet and gymnastics or team sports like soccer and baseball. And if your children’s school offers physical activity programs, make sure your kids are making the most of them. If competitive sports don’t appeal to your children, encourage them to try activities like in-line skating or skateboarding. Just make sure they wear the proper protective gear like helmets and wrist guards. Also, this is a good time to begin thinking about ImPACT screening, just in case a concussion ever happens.
Also, this is a great time to consider participating in our Shapedown program. The program builds on the strength of the family while gently and effectively supporting families in creating an active lifestyle and a healthy diet. Parents learn skills to curb their child’s emotional overeating and sharpen limit-setting skills to prompt children toward a healthier lifestyle. Children accept more responsibility for diet and activity and feel happier and safer. Food becomes less important, activity more exciting and the child’s weight begins to normalize.
For tweens and teens
Older kids have even more opportunities to be active. Unfortunately, they have more sedentary distractions, too, like texting and video games. As your children’s independence begins to take hold, encourage them to choose activities they enjoy. They may want to get involved in school sports like track, basketball, cheerleading or football. Expose them to other activities like martial arts or aerobics. And don’t forget, fun activities like dancing, jumping rope and playing Frisbee burn calories, too!
For other suggestions or to find out if your child is on track with growth and development, talk with your child’s pediatrician or other provider. And don’t forget, Shapedown is an excellent and cost-effective way to build a stronger child and relationship with your