Exercising is good for anyone of any age, but it can be crucial in adolescents. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), less than one-quarter of children 6 to 17 years of age participate in the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
Regular physical activity can help children and adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing other health conditions.
One way parents/guardians can help encourage their child to be physically active and to develop healthy living habits is by exercising with their child.
National Exercise with Your Child Week takes place Aug. 7 to 13. This week is dedicated to helping encourage parents and guardians to empower their children to be physically active every day. Staying active together and being a role model for a healthy life can help children build confidence while teaching them the importance of physical activity.
“Exercising with your child regularly can teach them how fun and exciting physical activity can be,” said John Nielsen, MD, Aspirus Family Physician at the Aspirus Merrill Clinic. “Lifestyle habits that are learned in childhood are much more likely to stay with a person into adulthood. When sports and physical activities are a family priority, it provides children and parents with a strong foundation for a healthy lifestyle.”
Here are seven other great ways to help encourage children to be physically active, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Find a sport that the child enjoys. The more they enjoy the activity, the more likely they will be to continue it.
Choose an activity that is developmentally appropriate.
For example, a seven- or eight-year-old child is not ready for weightlifting or a three-mile run, but soccer, bicycle riding, and swimming are all great activities for kids this age.
Provide a safe environment.
Make sure the child’s equipment and where they practice or play is safe. Make sure the child’s clothing is comfortable and appropriate for the activity.
Provide active toys.
Young children especially need easy access to balls, jump ropes, and other active toys.
Be a role model.
Children who regularly see their parents enjoying sports and physical activity are more likely to do so themselves.
Limit screen time, including time spent on TV, videos, computers, and video games each day. Use the free time for more physical activities.
Make time for exercise.
Some children are so overscheduled with homework, music lessons, and other planned activities that they do not have time for exercise. Make sure the child has a convenient time and place to exercise.
Planning around both parents and children’s schedules may be difficult, but it’s a crucial bonding experience that can influence a child’s lifestyle and health.