Getting Up, Getting Out

Did you know that kids age 6 and older need at least one hour a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity? Here’s how you can make sure they’re getting what they need.

Turn it off. The unfortunate reality for many kids is that they spend the majority of the day sitting in the classroom, and then come home only to spend a large part of their time in front of the T.V., on their phones, or on the computer. While no one is suggesting these activities are always bad, as parents, it’s imperative that we help our kids establish healthy boundaries. Set parameters for screen time – allow it only during certain hours or after certain activities have been completed.

Encourage discovery. Expose your kids to a variety of activities and sports from an early age, and let them figure out what they like. Some kids will be more interested in team sports, whereas others may gravitate toward swimming, karate, gymnastics, rock climbing, or dance classes.

No matter what they choose, cheer them on! Your encouragement and support will be key to helping them stick with it.

Get the ball rolling. If you want to give your kids more incentive to get outside, purchase a few active toys you know they’ll love – an assortment of balls (a football, basketball, soccer ball, etc.), jump ropes, hula hoops, and if you can afford it, a bike or some rollerblades. For rainy days, Wii fit or active video games can be fun indoor options.

Have them invite friends. Having peers to swim, bike, and play outside with makes exercise a completely different experience for kids. Your son or daughter will likely be more willing to try a new sport or activity if their friends are doing it with them, and they’ll probably have more fun too.

Set an example. That fact is, children emulate the behavior of their parents, so if you are engaged in physical activity, your kids will likely follow your lead. Why not plan activities as a family?  Go for a hike or a bike ride with your kids, play tennis or basketball, or do a dance fitness video. Set the same screen time limits for yourself that you do for them, and explain to them why you enjoy exercise and how it makes you happy.

An Expert Weighs In

"Studies show that kids who exercise have grater self-esteem and confidence, improved academic scores, and stronger muscles and bones. In addition, active kids are less likely to become overweight and develop type 2 diabetes. Exercise can be structured such as soccer, gymnastics, and baseball, or it can be as simple as biking, rollerblading, or playing a playground. Chattanooga offers many unique types of activities, such as rock climbing, hiking, and water activities. Parents should also involve themselves in the kids' activities and make it a regular activity so it becomes habit-forming."

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