Is seems like only yesterday, a beautiful spring day is already on the horizon and with only 12 hours of daylight to enjoy it. Quickly I inhale my cereal before congregating outside with the rest of my friends for a marathon of outdoor activity. Anything and everything is on the agenda. Home run derby, a pickup game of hoops, WWE matches on the trampoline…all with our dirt bikes being the preferred mode of transportation. For most adults this should sound all too familiar. Activity was spontaneous and a natural part of our youth. Unfortunately this is not the case anymore. Today we live in a “virtual” world filled with reality television, texting, social media, and our activity now comes in the form of a video game. The cost? Our health! The facts don’t lie:
- More than 30 percent of American children are obese or overweight. This is triple the number than in 1980.
- Only 2 percent of school-age children consistently eat well.
- Only 8 percent of elementary school students and 6 percent of middle school and high school students have daily PE at school.
- 35% of school-age children watch an average of 5 or more hours of TV on a school day.
- As a nation, we spend $119 billion annually on obesity-related health care costs.
- Today’s generation is the first expected to live shorter lives than their parents.
As a fitness professional and parent this frightens me! More than ever we need to lead by example, get involved, and become the change. While we may face an uphill battle, I remain optimistic and confident that we can turn this ship around. And with spring officially here, I can’t think of a better time to turn over a new leaf. Here our some tips to help get our kids active again and foster permanent change.
1. Get the whole family involved: This is probably the most important factor for overall success. To elicit permanent change, it’s necessary that we as parents become the role model and go through the process with our kids. Being a cheerleader right along side them not only will benefit everyone’s health, but will also improve your kid’s self-confidence and foster a stronger relationship with you as their parent.
2. Unplug: It’s no news flash that we spend too much time in front of the television, computer, etc. Designated a specific time everyday where all electronic devices are turned off. Even if it’s only a half an hour, the point is to start somewhere. Use this time for physical activity like a family walk, a bike ride, a game of soccer, anything that gets everyone moving! Remember, energy begets energy. It won’t take long for before 30 minutes turns into an hour. Before you know it, your kids will be the one’s requesting to get out for some recreational play.
3. Make it fun: The more game-like the activity the better. Games like wheel barrel races and freeze tag not only are fun, but provide a killer workout! Also, many adults enjoy games as well. I’ve been doing outdoor games and drills with clients for almost eight years now and it’s amazing how kid like we all are! And the best part, it doesn’t feel like a work!
4. Variety: The more you can expose your kids to the better. Activities may include traditional team sports like basketball, or other popular activities like martial arts or skateboarding. Playing a variety of games and activities is great for overall motor skill development and a perfect way of finding what activities your kids enjoy most. Bottom line, if your kids enjoy it, the more likely that they will stick with it in the future!