In spite of more than a decade of effort, childhood obesity rates continue to be on the rise rather than in decline. Childhood obesity is particularly problematic because children that struggle with obesity tend to continue to struggle with obesity throughout their lives.
Obesity increases the risk of a number of health issues including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, gout, and even type II diabetes. The best way to decrease the risk of these issues in adulthood is to stop childhood obesity in its tracks. A high level of physical activity is one of the best defenses against obesity; but in a technologically-obsessed world, it can be difficult to get your child off the couch and out doing things.
Here are five tips
to help encourage physical activity beyond PE class.
1. Find Activities They Are Passionate About
While an adult may exercise simply because they understand their health depends on it, children will generally only do what they enjoy doing.
If a child does not enjoy playing sports, signing them up for a sports team is probably going to just create more headaches than it is worth. On the other hand, being active doesn’t necessarily mean being athletic. When children are sitting around or bored, they are also more inclined to snack.
When they are active and engaged, they are less likely to think about or even want food.
Even activities like
taking a cooking class or going to a theater camp will do more to keep them
active than just sitting around playing video games.
2. Use Tech to Your Advantage
Technology doesn’t have to be the enemy of activity. Action-oriented gaming systems can help bridge the gap between playing games and staying active and outdoor exploration games like Pokemon Go and Harry Potter Wizard’s Unite can even help get your kids more excited about being outdoors. Even apps that help kids learn about nutrition or ways to get and stay fit can be invaluable in your battle to keep your kids active.
These can present otherwise boring or tedious subjects in
a way that will make them fun, so kids will more
likely want to try new foods or activities.
3. Use Apps to Help Them Track Their Habits
When adults want to get their finances in order, most financial experts recommend first just tracking their spending. When adults start tracking just what they are spending money on, they are often shocked by how much they spend on fairly frivolous items.
The same can be true
for kids. Just like adults, children are
often just simply unaware of how much time they spend sitting around or doing
nothing. You might be surprised at
what they become motivated to do on their own when they simply see what tracking apps reveal to them.
4. Help Them Set and Meet Goals
Whether it is watching your bank account grow, your credit score rise, or the numbers on a scale go down, there is something deeply satisfying about watching your progress towards achieving a goal.
The more progress you make, the more motivated you become towards achieving more progress.
Once again, what is
true of you is also true of your kids. While you want to be careful not to
pressure your children into achieving goals that you set for them, you can help them set their own goals and devise a
means of achieving them. They are more likely to be active and continue to
be active when they have specific goals to measure their progress.
5. Set a Good Example
It is no secret that children are far more likely to do what you do than what you tell them to do. It may be awfully difficult to get your children to be more active if you spend most of your time sitting in front of a screen. Not only can this help your kids be more active be good for them, but it might also be good for you as well.
Staying active, getting fit or eating healthy can become goals for the whole family. Not only will it
help improve your health, but it might also even help improve your relationships.
Children, on the whole, have much higher energy levels than adults. This makes them naturally more inclined towards activity than adults. Traditional schools, however, encourage building the discipline of sitting still for several hours a day. While this is an important facet of learning, it is also important to help them not make this the norm for their entire life. In fact, helping them burn up excess energy when they are not in school may actually help them focus better and be better students in school.