Like adults, kids need exercise. Most children need at least an hour of physical activity every day. Regular exercise helps children:
— feel less stressed,
— feel better about themselves,
— feel more ready to learn in school,
— keep a healthy weight,
— build and keep healthy bones, muscles and joints and
— sleep better at night .
As kids spend more time watching TV, they spend less time running and playing. Parents should limit TV, video game and computer time. Parents can set a good example by being active themselves. Exercising together can be fun for everyone. Exercise and activity are wonderful for the entire family to do together, as it not only promotes exercise, but helps families have fun together and become closer.
Outlined below are some fun and creative ways to get your kids moving.
Make it a (friendly) competition. Some kids (and adults) are inspired by the chance to strut their stuff and prove their prowess. Turn walks into races or backyard ball-tossing into real games with score-keeping. Make a dance party into an American Idol-style event with points awarded for the best moves. Who in your family can take the most steps in a day, do the most push-ups, or twist into the most complicated yoga pose? You might be surprised! Do keep your child's temperament in mind, though; this strategy will backfire with kids who are sensitive about their abilities, or who simply don't care about winners and losers.
Step up the silly factor. If you're dancing, go all out with crazy costumes and crazier moves. If you're taking a family walk, tell jokes or sing goofy songs as you go. If someone needs a new winter hat, pick up one of those funny fleeces that make the wearer look like a court jester or a spiky-headed dinosaur. Who wouldn't want an excuse to go outside in a get-up like that?
Hip hip, hooray for fitness fun! Make up a family cheer and perform it whenever someone achieves a fitness-related goal. Too dorky? The point is to support each other and celebrate wins big and small. And that includes mom's and dad's successes, too. If parents run in a race or make a great out at a softball game, play it up!
Be newbies together. As a family, choose a new sport and learn it together. Martial arts, horseback riding, and dance are especially well-suited to varying ages and skill levels. Or teach each other your favorite fitness activities. Kids love to reverse roles and be the instructor. Set aside a family workout time once or twice a week and take turns taking the lead.
Do it for a good cause, especially if your family has been personally affected by the issue. A run, walk, or even a car wash that benefits a beloved charity can provide just the inspiration you need for some family physical activity. Plus, you can't beat the extra feel-good message you're sharing with your kids.
Go thematic. Take a cue from teachers and build a whole "unit" around your child's favorite activity, sport, or athlete. Devote an afternoon to basketball, for example, with themed crafts, foods, books and, of course, active games. Plan it the way you would a birthday party—only without all the extra guests!
Information from http://familyfitness.about.com/od/motivation/tp/family_fun_tips.htm. Clark County Health Department offers a variety of services for the community and families, including well child, immunizations, family planning, WIC, and HANDS. For more information, on any our programs, call 744-4482 or visit the website at www.clarkhealthdept.org. Submitted by Shawna Thomerson, MSW.