Ways to get your child moving more
Create opportunities for movement
Provide equipment or environments that encourage and allow for active play. Schedule in structured sports and free active play.
Limit screen time
This includes iPods, cellphones, computers, television and cinema. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends, for optimal health, children under 2 should not watch television. Children over 2 should restrict television time to 1-2 hours of quality programming per day.
Focus on fun
Exercise should never be seen as a chore or a punishment. Don’t harp on your child’s weight issues. Refrain from saying, “You’ve been lying around all day. You need to go and exercise. Look at how plump you are.” Rather say, “Let’s go have some fun. Do you want to kick a ball about or splash in the pool?”
Things to try:
- Dance to your favourite songs
- Fly a kite
- Splash through puddles with wellingtons on
- Walk along the lines around the floor tiles
- Collect twigs and leaves
- Throw the dog a ball
- Run through sprinklers
- Sing and dance with your baby.
If you see a task is too difficult or easy for your child, adjust it so he feels challenged and yet can be successful. These feelings will motivate him to continue being active.
The fitness triangle
Ensure all three areas of fitness are targeted:
This requires the heart to beat faster and your child to breathe harder. For example, bicycling, swimming and soccer. Regular, consistent aerobic exercise strengthens the heart and improves oxygen delivery to the cells.
This requires muscular power, often from movement against resistance. Although weights are not necessary or recommended for young children, movement involving uphills, climbing and wrestling activities will do the job.
Stretch ensures your child maintains a full range of motion of his joints important for agility. These include hanging from the jungle gym or a tree, action song workouts and a good passive stretch session after baby massage.
Maximise on movement in daily activities
- walk the dog
- wash the car
- use the stairs instead of the escalator
- involve your child in active house work, such as sweeping.
Schedule regular active play times
- Encourage the interests they show in sport.
- Praise their efforts to participate regardless of the success of the outcome
- Attend their sports practices as often as you can to show the importance and value you place on these activities.
Role-model active lifestyle
- Find activities you can share with your child such as swinging, pool games or jumping on the trampoline, so your movement doesn’t become a labour of love but a true bond of pleasure for both of you
- Plan regular active family outing such as hikes
- Engage in active hobbies that interest you, whatever they may be, from a walk around a park to a triathlon, so your child can see that exercise is an important part of your adult lifestyle. Emphasise enjoyable participation in activities such as walking and dancing, not just competitive sports.
Lay the foundations
To ensure exercise is part of your child’s long term lifestyle you need to ensure he is taught all the basics, such as balls skills, skipping, jumping, balance skills and team play. Research shows that if a child lacks these skills they will avoid sports. Be patient though, each child develops skills at a different rate. View healthy eating and regular exercise as a means to improve your child’s self-confidence, active engagement in life and health.
Set the healthy cycle in motion – today.