Back in the “good ‘ol days,” kids used to spend all of their daylight hours outside, building forts in the woods, playing tag or riding bikes with friends, or otherwise engaged in one of hundreds of adventures of the mind. Sadly, that isn’t the case today.
If you’re a parent, then you already know that kids today tend to spend a majority of their days (and nights) in a trance-like state, staring at some type of electronic device. Whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, or computer, it’s not uncommon for children nowadays to be oblivious to the world around them for up to nine hours a day, which also means that they’re likely completely stationary during that time as well.
This is problematic because too much sitting has been linked to major health issues like cardiovascular disease and cancer. It also increases the likelihood that your child will become obese, a health issue that contributes to these diseases as well while also putting your child at risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a whole other host of health conditions that can negatively affect his or her quality of life both now and into the future.
That’s why it’s so important to help your child begin to develop good health habits now. The more they learn to appreciate the value of regular physical activity when they’re in their younger years, the more likely it is they’ll carry that appreciation—and the health benefits that go along with it—into adulthood. So how do you get started?
Find Exercises They Enjoy
The key to making exercise work for kids, or for anyone in general for that matter, is that it has to be something they enjoy or they simply won’t want to do it. Even if you’re able to get them out the first time, it’ll be a battle of wills every time after that, which isn’t going to be good for anyone. That’s why you have to find ways for kids to become involved in activities they look forward to doing.
For instance, does your little one enjoy bicycling? You could take your bikes to the park and explore new trails or simply peddle down your road and make up crazy cycling adventures in your mind. Maybe it’s music that moves your child? Turn on their favorite tunes and move to the beat right in your living room. It doesn’t matter so much what you do as long as you come up with fun kid workouts, they’ll participate willingly. If the fitness pros are saying it – and putting together fun musical classes, then it must be true.
Limit Their Electronics Time
Another option to limit the time your child can spend with electronic devices. Yes, you’ll probably get some resistance with this one, but it’ll be more than worth it as long as you continue to remind yourself that you’re helping your child learn how to be healthy for years to come.
Of course, this suggestion does require that you monitor your child’s electronics usage. That may seem simple enough with something like a television because you’re able to hear when it’s on, but not so easy with smartphones and tablets as a pair of headphones or setting the device to vibrate is all your youngster needs to do to keep their usage time hidden.
One option to get around this is to install an app that shuts down the device according to the time allotment you’ve set. Another way to overcome this particular obstacle is to keep all of the electronics locked up during off-hour times, making them inaccessible to their little hands.
Getting your child off the couch and more active may not occur without a fight, at least initially. But once you do, they may actually find that they enjoy their time away from electronics. Who knows? They may even create the same type of fond memories that you have from your rather active childhood. Isn’t that a nice thought?