Recently, I heard that the eight-year-old son of our neighbour has been diagnosed with diabetes. The child is overweight for his age, not active in outdoor activities, spends too much time in front of the television and eats a lot of junk food.
But do you blame him or his parents for such habits?
This made me realize how important it is that my husband and I agree in encouraging our growing kids to make exercise a habit. Based on what we have read from literature, exercise helps develop stronger muscles and bones, control body fat, lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, and lessen the risk of developing Type II Diabetes.
So, how do we get our kids motivated to exercise? Here are some tips that you can also implement with your kids:
Be an example. Before you can get your kids motivated to exercise, you should first demonstrate enthusiasm in following an exercise routine. At home, you may execute exercises for about 30 minutes everyday at a regular time. Or you can play a workout video disc and follow through with the exercises being demonstrated. Whether you follow these suggestions or find another way to exercise, show your kids that you are making exercise a habit and they will also get interested with exercising sooner or later.
Schedule a time when you and your kids can exercise. Once you get your kids interested, they will just imitate what you are doing. Like for example, our three-year-old daughter tries to execute the exercises she sees played on video whenever my husband and I exercise. So we established a regular time for all of us to exercise. Though our youngest child still cannot execute the exercises, she dances to the background music played in the exercise video. This has become a fun, family time for all of us.
Have a walk together. If you do not have any workout video disc to play or you don’t know what exercises to execute, a simple walk or a stroll together around the neighbourhood early in the morning will be just as fine. To add variety to your walk, you can ask your child to identify and name objects or show him or her things he or she has not seen before. You can also sing a song while walking or add in some jumping, or hopping with walking.
Engage your child in structured and unstructured play. Structured play may include activities that ask your child to do something such as catching, kicking or throwing a ball, or playing statue dance. Unstructured play, on the other hand, allows your child to play on his or her own preference with toys. For this, provide toys that will stimulate her imagination and creativity. He or she may engage in pretend play where he or she can be anyone he or she wants to be such as a doctor, nurse, teacher, athlete, etc.
Allow your child to participate in outdoor activities. Playing at the park or engaging in aerobic exercises such as bicycling, jogging, running, or swimming could be enjoyable for kids. So, get them involved in these activities.
Involve them in sports trainings and activities. Aside from outdoor activities, you can get your child enrolled in a sports training program for basketball, volleyball, baseball, soccer, gymnastics or many more. This will help your child develop discipline, endurance, strength and flexibility.
Limit TV and computer exposure. Watching television and playing games on the computer are activities that hinder your child from being active. So as much as possible, reduce the time that your child spends on these activities. Based on a research study, prolonged television exposure is linked with obesity among children. There are also other negative effects associated with watching television as well as using the computer among kids.
Make exercising a fun time together with your children and you’ll be on the right track in raising fit and healthy kids. Of course, it is our joy as parents to see our children live a long and productive life.