You probably already suspected it, but encouraging kids to stay active is incredibly important. There are so many benefits that come with leading a healthy lifestyle that go far beyond simply staying in shape, including:
- Developing their strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness.
- Reducing their risk of chronic disease and health problems.
- Improving their mental health and well-being
You might not know this, but physical activity can actually be a deterrent to substance use too! The National Library Of Medicine found that “There is a strong rationale that physical activity could be a protective factor against the development of substance use disorders (SUDs), which include some of the most common mental health conditions such as tobacco and alcohol use disorder.”
How Much Is Enough?
The recommended amount of time a child should be active is at least 60 minutes a day. This activity should either be:
- Moderate – Enough to break a sweat and get your heart rate up. A brisk walk, cycling on level ground, gentle swimming, etc.
- Vigorous – Short bursts of maximum effort with rest periods in between. Playing a sport like basketball, sprinting, biking uphill, etc.
If they aren’t up to the mark yet, The Government of Canada’s website recommends adding 5 to 10 minutes of exercise every few weeks until you reach the goal of 60 minutes a day.
Tips To Encourage Kids To Stay Active
Here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to promote an active lifestyle for your children:
Fun Is #1!
As adults, exercising often turns into a chore (not that we think that’s right!). Kids don’t have the same level of tolerance to know that what they’re doing is worth it for them in the long run. They just want to be kids!
Luckily there is no shortage of ways for them to stay active and have fun at the same time. Playing sports with their friends, dancing to their favourite music, or just adventuring on their bike are all fun-first activities that also keep them active. There’s no need to force it!
See Opportunities Everywhere!
When planning anything with the kids, try to work some sort of physical activity into it. If you love going to the movies as a family, why not walk or bike there? If you’re planning a weekend trip, you could choose a national park or even the zoo, plenty of walking to be had at either!
Even short bursts of exercise can add up over time. While watching their favourite show, we like turning commercial breaks into little exercise competitions. How many jumping jacks can you do before the show comes back on?
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Setting Healthy Limits
Electronics are just a part of daily life, but that isn’t always a negative! Just like being active, playing video games actually helps develop their minds, with things like problem-solving, critical-thinking, and even fine-motor skills. Video games also act as a social space, as many of their friends want to play with them online.
However, setting a healthy time-limit for video games is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. A barter system might work too! If they’re active for an hour, they earn an hour on their favourite game! Most of the major consoles have parental controls baked right into them, allowing you to set time limits right on the device itself!
Do you know what else helps your kids stay active? Leading by example and doing it with them! That’s something the latest guest on the Atomic Health Podcast knows all about!
This week’s episode is excited to welcome the Owner of Stronger Together Studio, Judith Dell’Anno. She has a passion and vision of making it easier for parents and kids to stay active, together. “A client who had been coming for a few months now…She said she felt so safe and happy here. To me, that’s the biggest gift and exactly why we opened up.”