In an ever-growing sedentary world, where most activities from work to school are done indoors, on computers or other devices, we have seen a notable drop in exercise, especially in children. Children are prone to movement, an excess of energy that usually can’t be contained, but as their entertainment comes more and more from screens and less from physical play, research has shown a decided decline in their daily physical activity. So how can you combat this sudden shift into a stationary lifestyle? Sure, most parents enjoy the quiet calm that comes with having your child sitting quietly in front of a tv or computer, but even the most hectic parent wants a physically fit child.
Below are some ideas that allow your children to play outside, play creatively, and utilize all of their large motor skills in ways that are healthy and fun.
Do it as a family. Growing up for me, hiking was a huge family activity. There are so many national parks and local parks spread throughout the US, that it was easy to find one in and around our community. These types of outdoor activities are a fun and cheap way to get outside and enjoy nature. There are lots of things that you can do together as a family, from hiking and biking to just taking a stroll through a nature trail.
Schedule time. Set aside a particular time of day or week where your children can be encouraged to go outside and play. For example, after they get home from school, or in the afternoon when it’s daytime and still warm, makes the perfect environment for kids to toss a ball, throw a Frisbee, or just roll around in the grass.
Try competitive activities. Not all children enjoy sports or competitive activities, however if your child wants to learn and try out a new skill, there are a number of ideas that come to mind. Sport activities can include anything from kicking around a soccer ball with siblings and friends to playing a pick-up game of baseball, basketball, or even tennis.
Try out new things. Children are typically curious, so let them try activities they’ve never done before. Maybe your child has tried the traditional sports, but has never attempted something like dance- then provide them an opportunity to join a dance class. There are many options for activities that extend to more than what see happening on the neighborhood field. Look up what’s available in your community, based on climate, classes, clubs etc. Everything from winter sports to rollerblading can be doable options for your family.
Provide a safe and open environment. Exercise is important so be sure your kids have the right equipment and mindset to exercise in a safe and effective way. Sneakers, loose and comfortable clothing, cleats, helmets, etc. all contribute to a safe playing environment. Talk to your kids about what kind of exercise they’re doing, and if they are following the directions and keeping their muscles stretched. The rigor of the activity is also something to observe to make sure your child isn’t overexerting or hurting themselves while having fun.