With the lazy days of summer upon us, I thought this was a great time to talk about exercise for your kids. Children of all ages need some form of physical activity. When you have a mobile infant or toddler, that's usually not hard to accomplish! As kids get more interested in TV, movies, computer games and video games though, the amount of time that they are physically active decreases. For some, the decrease is quite dramatic. This, unfortunately, sets them up for an increased risk for becoming overweight and establishes unhealthy behaviors early on that they will battle through adulthood.
According to recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015, children and adolescents should be physically active for at least 60 minutes daily. Is your child that active?
Here are some ideas for increasing your child's physical activity while still keeping it fun for them (and you!):
• Walk or ride bikes with your children to school or community events that are nearby.
• Take a family walk around the neighborhood after dinner.
• Go to a local park for a change of scenery.
• Plan family vacation that focus on physical activity more than relaxation
• Find playgroups that tend to have more physically active events.
• Play a game of tag, red light/green light, or Simon says (with an emphasis on movement).
• Limit screen time (computer, TV, tablet, video game) to no more than 1-2 hours/day
• On days when the weather isn't the greatest or is too hot to be outside, turn on some music in the house and have a dance party.
• Encourage your child to participate in a community sport or dance team.
• Join a local YMCA.
• Check out Shape Your Future OK for more ideas on how to keep moving!
Promoting exercise now will not only benefit your child's health (and sleep habits!) and establish healthy behaviors that they will carry on into adulthood, but it will also create more opportunities for invaluable family memories this summer.
Kim Bilger is a registered dietitian with a passion for helping people optimize their nutritional health. She lives in Edmond with her husband and three kids who appreciate her love of baking but not always her love of vegetables.