As a parent, you play a key role in encouraging physical activity and ensuring that your child completes an adequate amount of exercise to maintain his or her health. Here are some strategies that will help your child to be more physically active.
Embrace the Outdoors
Sending your child outside to play can encourage her to be more active. In fact, a 2008 study in the International Journal of Obesity found that children who spent more time outdoors engaged in more physical activity, and they were less likely to become overweight. Study authors concluded that time spent outdoors could effectively increase children’s levels of physical activity. The specific outdoor environment can also promote physical activity. In 2012, researchers for the journal Health & Place found that children who were exposed to green spaces were more likely to complete moderate or vigorous intensity exercise. In fact, those who were exposed to green spaces for more than 20 minutes daily were almost five times as active as children with almost no exposure to green spaces were. Head to a park to play a game of Frisbee on the grass, or encourage your child to ride a bike on a trail close to your home to take advantage of this benefit. Whatever activity your child chooses, time spent in nature offers an opportunity to be active.
Allow Time with Friends
Your child might be more active when spending time with friends compared to when he is alone. In a 2014 study in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health, researchers analyzed activity levels among young children when they were alone, in addition to when they were with a friend. Children played in a gymnasium, where they could choose between sedentary activities or physical activity. Results showed that children were 54 percent more active when playing with a friend compared to playing alone. Arrange weekend play dates to give your child the opportunity to shoot hoops or play a game of tag with his friends.
Set a Good Example
You can be a role model for your children by making exercise a priority in your own life. In fact, children who see their parents being more physically active are more active themselves, according to the research. A 2013 study in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health showed that children were more physically fit when they perceived at least one of their parents to be physically active. Teach your children about the importance of exercise, and show them your commitment by maintaining a regular workout regimen. Better yet, involve your children in your exercise routine. Take a walk as a family after dinner, or take your children hiking with you on the weekend. You can also plan family bike rides or head to the pool for an afternoon of swimming.
Sign up for Sports
Sports participation is just one of several ways to encourage your child to spend more time being active. You can also reduce sedentary time by making exercise a priority in your own life, and by utilizing strategies such as asking children to walk the dog or allowing them to play outside or spend time with friends. Whatever methods you choose, your commitment to increasing your child’s physical activity levels will have a positive and lasting impact on his or her health and well-being.