While some kids never seem to sit still, others will happily laze about in front of the television or tablets. Technology has meant that many past times are now sedentary activities. Instead of playing outdoors, kids are playing video games, or taking care of virtual pets. Physical inactivity, regardless of age, has detrimental effects on mood, metabolism, fitness, and weight.
According to Active Healthy Kids Australia (AHKA) one in five Australian kids are meeting the recommended national Physical Activity guidelines of accumulating at least 60 mins of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day.
Being active helps with self-esteem, brain development, social skills, coordination, and motor skills among other things. By instilling a habit of daily physical activity into kids’ routines at a young age it will set them up for a healthy and happy life. Here are a few ways to help get your kids moving more
Limit tech time. I admit, I use to turn on the TV if I needed to attend to an urgent deadline so I could get my work done without any disruption. But I now make a conscious effort of limit screen time to certain hours of the day and I’m amazed as to how creative and engaged kids can be when they’re left to their own devices.
Mix it up. It might take them a while to find what they enjoy most so let them try a variety of activities before settling on one or two.
Active Transport. Find opportunities to build active transport (defined as walking, using a scooter or riding) into daily routines such as school journeys, local parks etc. Families and children who use active transport to get to or from school are not only more physically active than those who do not but, also accumulate more daily minutes of health enhancing activity – take more steps, expend more energy over the day and generally have better health-related fitness. Check out National Walk Safely to School Day and take part this Friday 20th May.
Family fun. Make time to be active as a family on the weekend. Go for a walk and picnic somewhere, or try something seasonal like ice-skating in winter, bush walks in spring, horse back riding in Autumn and beach swims in summer.
Lead by example. Kids will take note of what parents do. By showing them that exercise is part of your daily life, they are more likely to have a positive opinion of exercise.
Active play dates – when friends come over to play, make sure they aren’t just sitting on the computer or in front of the TV. Get them outdoors as soon as possible and then let them have a little time with technology once they are tuckered out.
Back up plan – when the weather is not on your side, have a list of indoor places to explore. Try bowling, trampolining, or simply get your coat and gum boots on and go for a walk (and jump in puddles). As long as it’s not bucketing down, you can still get some fresh air.
Get lost in nature – being surrounded by trees and wildlife is deeply calming and good for the body and mind, regardless of your age. Besides, there’s lots of things kids can learn along the way, like naming the wild life and reading signs.