As a society, our occupations and leisure time are becoming increasingly sedentary. This applies to children too, as it seems kids today are spending less time playing outside or running around with their peers, and more time in front of screens. Televisions, phones, video games, and computers have replaced traditional toys and activities, and reap much of their (and our) attention and preoccupation. The great news is that as parents or caregivers, there are so many ways that we can lead active and healthy lifestyles with our children. Here are a few ideas:
For younger children such as infants and toddlers, try putting them into a stroller or baby carrier and go for a walk, or even a run if you have a jogging stroller. Take them to the park and play, or go visit a pond to feed the ducks. Bringing toys and snacks to keep them happy always helps, as well as playing games like 'I spy' or 'peek-a-boo'. As you stroll through a local park you can even stop briefly to fit in exercises such as lunges, squats, push-ups, and burpees alongside your baby. Here's a great parent and baby workout that requires no exercise equipment. Also, many gyms offer "Mommy and Me" group exercise classes where you can socialize with other mothers of infants and get a workout in too.
For older children, engage in activities and play with them, don't just be a spectator. Go to the park and run around together, play ball or tag, toss a Frisbee, jump rope, or even use the jungle gym as exercise equipment (try pull-ups, push-ups, or the monkey bars). In the summer, seek out seasonal activities like going to the beach or pool and swimming, walking, digging, boogie boarding, or playing volleyball. Kayaking, paddle boarding, badminton, biking, and hiking are also great options. When the snow starts falling and temperatures drop, you don't have to hibernate until spring. Beat cabin fever and get outside and enjoy the winter through activities such as cross-country or downhill skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, skating, walking, or playing in the snow. If money is a concern, try borrowing the equipment from friends or rent the necessary gear to see if you like the activity first. If you want to stay indoors, many family-focused fitness centers offer open swim or gym time, allowing you to escape the house and have fun together. Another tip for kids of all ages is to set limits on screen time for weekdays and weekends, which opens up more opportunities for physical play.
No matter which activity you choose, of utmost importance is that as parents we are leading by example with our behaviors. If your children see you embracing physical activity as a fun and necessary part of your life, chances are they will be more inclined to enjoy it as well. Incorporate your kids and their suggestions when planning different activities each month so that they feel involved and excited.
I'd love to hear from you! How do you stay active with your kids?