If you’re working on making yourself healthier with exercise and diet, you probably want to help your children get into healthy habits, too. One way to get your kids to exercise is to give them a good example. It doesn’t mean you have to workout together, although that actually can be fun. It can mean providing opportunities for more active play. Prying children away from video games can be a task. It may be well worth it for their future mental health.
Recent studies now show that too much computer, tablet or cell phone time may actually be unhealthy.
The first thing I suggest to parents is that they change their child’s phone from one that has all the bells and whistles, including games, to one that just phones and texts. They cost about ten dollars and based on recent studies, may be the healthiest thing you can do for your child. There’s more and more growing concern over screen time spent and the effects on children. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest less than an hour or two a day of any type electronic screen media. Part of the concern is the sedentary lifestyle it develops. There’s also evidence it affects the child’s sleep and potentially could lead to increasing the risk of depression.
Be more than just a role model, be a leader.
When you go to the gym and workout, your children know you’re doing it for your health and fitness, but it doesn’t really make a difference unless you show how that makes you more fun! You can be a leader by planning family activities, like hiking and bicycling. When you’re giving a gift, make it one that promotes an active lifestyle, like roller blades or hoop and basketball. Then, do those things together to create family fun, traditions and memories.
Increase activity by changing habits.
If you drive your kids to school every day, why not walk that distance with them? Lots of times parents take longer driving the few blocks to school and waiting in the drop off line with other parents, wasting gas in the process of that wait. Enjoy a walk in the park with a preschooler or even a walk down your street, identifying birds and flowers along the way. Don’t circle the lot at a grocery. Grab the first parking place and walk a bit. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Both you and your children will benefit from these changes.
- Make household tasks a way to boost activity level. Do chores together to music and dance as you dust and sweep. Turn chores into a game of speed. Even outside activities can be more fun. After raking, jump in the leaf pile together.
- Use trips as motivation. If you’re planning on a trip to Disneyworld or other theme park, it means a lot of walking. Start a month ahead to help your kids get in shape. Enjoying the trip to the maximum is a huge motivation.
- Make weekend activities active. Walking through a nature preserve, hiking and even sightseeing in a near by city keeps your kids walking and active. Pack a healthy lunch to add to the benefits.
- Give your child the responsibility of exercising pets. While gold fish and turtles may not need to take a walk or have playtime, it helps protect the health of dogs and cats, while increasing the amount of exercise your kids and your whole family gets.