SHAPING UP: Getting kids to switch off the TV and electronic devices... and get active
Every year it seems harder and harder to get kids off the sofa, or to put down the iPad for a minute and go out for some fresh air and exercise.
This is hardly surprising when you consider the average child or teen spends 7 hours a day either watching TV or using computers, phones, and other electronic devices for entertainment.
A recent study by UK Active stated that the summer holidays are bad for children’s health, with youths being “plonked in front of screens” and losing most of the fitness they gain at school.
They found that, on average, British school children lose 80 per cent of the fitness they build up during term time through “lazy” time off.
The study measured 400 pupils before and after the summer holidays, and found they were able to run significantly less distance before stopping with exhaustion after the summer break.
As we know, inactivity can lead to putting on a few lbs, and if this continues into their adult life they could develop a whole range of physical, mental and social problems such as…
Increased risk of Heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure
Lower self esteem
Anxiety and depression
Weaker bones and muscles
So, when you look at the negative side-effects of being overweight it becomes clear that as a parent, encouraging your kids to be healthy and active is one of the most beneficial things you can do for them, for both immediate and long-term development, health and happiness.
The good news is that kids naturally enjoy playing, being active and running around with friends. All you need to do is help encourage exercise as part of their daily routine.
Here are some simple tips to help get your kids active:
Turn Off ElectronicsIt’s important to have times of the day when electronics are not to be used. Of course, in today’s world technology is a part of daily life for school, communication and entertainment, but there needs to be scheduled times for the use of these devices, otherwise they can quickly become the dominating focus of a child’s life.
Research Fun ActivitiesIf exercise isn’t fun it’ll be hard to get your child excited to participate consistently. That’s why it’s important to research a range of activities and sports and find one that suits your child’s personality, age, ability, and most importantly, one they enjoy.
Schedule Time For ActivityLife can be busy for both you and your child, especially teenagers. And if activity times aren’t scheduled into their calendar it can be easy to skip or simply forget to make time for it. Sports with specific training and game times are ideal for keeping a regular routine of exercise.
Introduce Them To Healthy Role ModelsEvery child has idols they look up to. So, it’s important that you actively introduce your child to quality role models who promote a healthy lifestyle. You as a parent are also a huge role model for your child and can help by leading by example and participating in regular exercise as well.
Provide A Safe EnvironmentNot every parent feels comfortable letting their kids run around the streets like we used to a generation ago. And depending where you live this may not be practical. So, providing your child with a safe, supervised environment where they can play without worry will help encourage more daily activity.
Get Active With FriendsIf you can find an activity that your kids can share with their friends, they’ll be much more enthusiastic. So, talk to the other parents at school or play dates and find activities they can do together. Team sports such as football, cricket, netball, and rugby are great for getting active, meeting new friends and increasing self-esteem.
Encourage ThemThe most important factor is that you encourage and help your child become more active. Drive them to training, find fun activities or programmes to do over school holidays, be enthusiastic when they show an interest in a new sport or activity and educate them about the importance of regular exercise.