Do your kids spend too much time glued to a TV or computer screen? This spring, inspire them to get up and get active.
Cold winter weather can keep even the most active kids cooped up. Though warmer temperatures have now arrived, your kids may still be stuck in hibernation mode. Staying sedentary could have serious impacts on their overall health.
The Lost Art of Pursuing Active Fun
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends children engage in some form of physical activity for at least one hour every day, including highly strenuous activity at least three days a week. Unfortunately, most children fail to meet this recommendation. According to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, just one in three American kids is physically active on a daily basis. Instead, children are increasingly spending their time in front of TVs, computers and smartphones. A 2013 survey by Common Sense Media found that screen time occupies nearly two hours of the average 0- to 8-year-old U.S. child’s day.
Physical activity is critical at a young age because it helps children develop healthy musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. It also helps children maintain a healthy body weight and avoid childhood obesity. Studies show people who become obese as children are more likely to struggle with obesity throughout their lives.
From Couch Potato to Sporty Spud
Children’s health is often influenced by the lifestyles and behaviors of their parents. Are your actions enabling or even encouraging your kids to be sedentary? Take action with these tips:
- Set an e-curfew. Clock your children’s screen time to make sure they’re spending no more than one hour per day in front of electronic devices. Keep TVs and computers out of your kids’ bedrooms to better monitor their screen time.
- Show, don’t tell. Taking the lead with family activities is essential to promoting healthier habits in your kids. When was the last time you went on a family bike ride or played a family game of tag football in the park?
- Schedule family fitness in advance. Your family’s schedule can fill up fast. Be intentional with your time—at the beginning of each week, block off a few hours for family-friendly physical activity. Give your children the opportunity to choose each week’s activity.
- Get back to the basics. You may have a boxful of old sports equipment sitting in your garage or attic. Dust off those forgotten baseball gloves or pump up that deflated soccer ball and help your kids rediscover their love for outdoor sports.
- Encourage individuality. If your kids have outgrown team sports, introduce them to recreational activities that support their burgeoning sense of independence. Solo activities such as rock climbing, mountain biking, swimming or disc golfing allow adolescents and teens to express their individuality by developing a specialized skill.
Is your child struggling with excess weight or obesity? A pediatrician can help your family develop a healthy lifestyle plan. To make an appointment, visit parkridgehealth.com/physicians.