By Kennith Campbell
Developing strong bodies and minds is a critical part of childhood, but few too many kids nowadays have the inspiration or motivation to do much more than sit on the couch watching television. Add to this the fact that over half the US adult population is considered overweight, and one in three kids under the age of 12 are medically overweight. The Centers for Disease Control advises that children who are overweight have a high chance of being obese in adulthood, and this can lead to a laundry-list of health issues, including:
• 70 percent of obese kids have or will develop high blood pressure and cholesterol levels that are above the normal range, which are both risk factors for heart disease.
• Inactive kids who are obese often have breathing problems, such as asthma and sleep apnea, which can be deadly.
• Kids are at an increased risk for impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance which lead to hormonal imbalances and type 2 diabetes.
• Children who are obese or inactive have a greater risk for mental illness and social problems due to poor self-esteems and discrimination that affects them well into adulthood.
The good news is that none of these risk factors have to happen, if you can get your children moving and leading a physically active lifestyle. It starts with good parenting and setting an example for your kids, to inspire them to see exercise and other forms of physical activity as a normal part of everyday routines.
Here are some good ways to motivate your kids to be physically fit, and avoid the problems associated with childhood obesity.
1. Make physical fitness fun. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or uncomfortable in order to be good for your health. Instead, it’s time to look at physical fitness as something to look forward to and a time for having fun. Put on some music when you do chores and encourage your kids to dance around the house. Try adding a basketball hoop to your home’s exterior and challenge your kids to a weekly game. Reduce television, computer and video game time to an hour each week, and offer alternative entertainment options.
2. Plan family activities in the outdoors. Perhaps one of the best ways to motivate your kids to get more physical fitness into their lives is by participating as a family unit. Stop doing activities that encourage sitting around, and start planning outdoor activities in community parks and playgrounds. Buy everyone a bicycle and go for rides to the store instead of driving in the family mini-van. Kids will follow in your footsteps, so you want to be a good example.
3. Stop revolving around food. A major reason why many families have a high incidence of obesity is not just about genetics; it’s also about values concerning family time and food. Families who plan events and celebrations around the food they will serve are teaching kids that in order to be happy, one must overeat. Instead, when planning or attending family activities, avoid indulging in rich foods and instead encourage personal interaction by walking around the room.
4. Set weekly goals for physical activity, with rewards. Your kids will become more self-motivated if they are challenged. This is because kids all like to feel special and they will respond to the positive reinforcement of weekly fitness goals. Create a wall chart where kids can track their fitness minutes, with a non-food treat rewarded when goals are met.
Living a healthier lifestyle and encouraging kids to get fit is a big part of who they will grow up to be someday. Make sure you are doing all you can to inspire them to be their very best.
- Kennith Campbell writes about the benefits of physical activies and physical fitness among other topics. Kennith is a writer for UltraSlide.