As parents, we want nothing more than for our children to thrive. We do everything we possibly can to ensure they are safe, healthy, and happy.
Staying active is important for health and well-being at any age, but even more so for kids. As they grow and develop, physical activity is vital, and impacts everything from muscle strength and weight, to behavior and mental wellness.
Children are naturally inclined to be active, but in modern society they are more likely to lead a sedentary lifestyle. As parents and educators, we can change that. These simple tips can help encourage kids to be active and healthy all year long.
Make it a family affair
Finding activities for the whole family, that get you up off the couch and doing something physically active, are wonderful for creating memories together. My family loves to go hiking on local nature trails, swimming at our community pool, and exploring at the playground. These are all special moments, that keep us active.
Try something new
Encourage kids to step outside their comfort zone and try something they’ve never done before. Rock climbing, ice skating, dance lessons, and sports are all great options.
Utilize community programs
Check your local community for resources, such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America, that provide safe, fun, and affordable places for children to go during non-school hours, where they can engage in enriching activities and programs, and have the chance to connect with caring, trained professionals, along with their peers.
Programs like this can prove to be an invaluable tool for keeping kids motivated year round, especially during school breaks when their daily routines change, and can lead to inactive or unhealthy days.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) is dedicated to enabling all young people to reach their full potential. They believe that every child deserves a great future, and they work hard to ensure kids and teens achieve this through academic success, good character & citizenship, and healthy lifestyle choices.
My kids have participated in local BGCA programs for years, and we’ve always been impressed with the pleasant and relaxed atmosphere, amazing staff, and meaningful activities. Aside from the opportunity to strengthen social skills through peer interactions, my children have thoroughly enjoyed the many field trips and life lessons they’ve experienced during their time at the Boys and Girls Clubs.
Since 2005, in partnership with the Anthem Foundation and The Coca-Cola Company, Boys and Girls Clubs of America has offered the Triple Play program for more than a million children across the country.
With a focus on three main components of health and wellness – mind, body, and soul – the Triple Play program has helped kids increase their physical activity, establish good nutritional habits, develop interpersonal skills, and improve their self-confidence.
Triple Play offers a plethora of resources for parents as well, including lessons and activities that can easily be incorporated into their family routines, especially during school breaks. Triple Play is dedicated to ensuring kids everywhere are empowered, given the tools and opportunities they need to excel, and set on the path to a great future.
Set a good example
One of the most effective ways to help kids understand the importance of leading an active lifestyle, is simply by showing them how it’s done. When children see the adults in their lives prioritizing health and wellness, they will likely do the same.
Let them see you choosing to do 30 minutes of yoga instead of scrolling through social media posts on your phone, or walking to a nearby store rather than driving. Whether we realize it or not, our children are constantly watching and learning from our actions. In most cases, kids will mimic what they see.
Keep it positive
Gone are the days of using physical activity as a punishment. You might remember having to do extra push-ups or laps around the track in school P.E. class, as a form of discipline.
We now know that these tactics are not helpful for motivating kids to maintain a positive outlook on health and physical activity. Exercise should be something they look forward to and enjoy. Flip the script, and use exercise as a healthy reward instead. The next time your child reaches a goal or completes a difficult task, take them roller skating, to a local trampoline park, or on a bike ride to reward their accomplishment.
Limit the screens
Technology plays a big part in our daily lives, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, it’s important to teach our children that to be healthy, we need to “unplug” and spend time away from electronic devices.
Close the laptop, put away your phone, and turn off the video game consoles. Instead, take a family walk around the neighborhood, do some yard work together, or teach your kids a fun and active game from your childhood.
Get outside, even during the colder months
Spending time outside is the easiest way to ensure kids (and adults) will be more active. From running and climbing, to riding bikes and skipping rope, there are plenty of engaging physical activities outdoors. Certainly this is easier in the spring and summer months, when the weather is more accommodating, but it’s just as important to get fresh air and exercise during the fall and winter.
There’s an old German proverb that says, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” This has become my motto over the years, and motivates me to bundle up the kids and get outside, even when it’s rainy or cold.
With these simple tips, the amazing resources available from Boys and Girls Clubs of America Triple Play program, and loving support from family and friends, our kids are sure to be active, healthy, and happy for years to come.
How do you encourage your kids to be physically active throughout the year? Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments below.