Healthy habits are much easier to maintain when started early in life. According to the American Heart Association, kids in the United States today are less fit than children of the previous generation. Even kids as young as two or three are spending more time playing video games and watching television than engaging in physical activity. This increases their risk for obesity and the many problems it causes including juvenile diabetes. It stands to reason we can best help our kids acquire healthy habits if we encourage them early, and participate with them. We can take some proactive steps to help our kids learn to enjoy physical activities and keep sedentary activities in balance.
It’s important to limit television and computer time and get kids outdoors to breathe fresh air and connect with nature. If your child balks at leaving the TV or the computer, find an activity that inspires them . Let them decorate a scooter or a flying turtle for their own sidewalk parade. Set up a bicycle racecourse for the Tricycle Tour de Sidewalk. Children instinctively know how to run, jump, tumble, and twirl. All kids need is for adults to provide the space, time and supervision they need to be healthy, strong and happy.
Play = Exercise. Engaging children in active play has many benefits. Muscle mass and bone strength are increased while body fat is decreased. Rousing physical play shrinks anxiety and improves mood. Nobody can stay mad after jumping on a Blast Pad or an Ultra Stomp Rocket ! Early physical activity can even be linked to a reduction in chronic diseases in adulthood.
An excellent way to introduce exercise for kids, especially 2 through 8, to physical activity is through daily walks. Is walking to school an option, or to a friend’s house, or the park? Now that fall is here, you can suggest picking up different colors and shapes of leaves along the way. Let your toddler pull a wagon or ride a trike . And don’t let “bad” weather stop you. A walk in the rain with umbrellas is fun for children of all ages.
Be a role model for your little ones, not only as an honest and kind person but as a healthy and physically active one as well Leave the car, TV and computer at home and get outside and walk, bike and run with your kids. The benefits will be life-long for all of us.