Nearly one fifth of children in America are obese; that's a trend that's been on the rise for decades. As a parent, it's up to you to tackle this problem by getting your kids moving. Your kids' fitness depends on it.
If you've already signed your children up for sports you'll know the benefits that sports bring—teamwork, motivation and goal setting, as well as the all-important physical fitness. However, it's easy to get stuck in a rut. Here are eight easy ways to make your already established routine more effective, improving your kids' fitness even further.
1. Set a good example
Whether you like it or not, your kids will copy everything you do. The best way to encourage your kids to get involved in something is for you to do it yourself, and to make it seem enjoyable. Make improving your own fitness a priority in your life and soon you'll see your good influence rubbing off on your kids.
2. Make it non-negotiable
Your household is probably full of non-negotiable rules such as brushing teeth and doing homework before watching TV. Similarly, if you make sport and fitness an integral part of your daily routine, your kids won't have a choice but to be active. Avoid forcing your kids or making sport a punishment, especially if it isn't really their thing. From as young an age as possible, make it a normal, everyday occurrence rather than piling on the pressure.
Putting together a full workout regimen incorporating cardio workouts, strengthening exercises and endurance activities can be pretty intimidating for kids. The trick is to include many different elements without letting them know. Get their hearts racing during the warm-up; the main exercise session is a great time to focus on endurance and muscular strength; finish by working on stretches and enhancing flexibility in the cooldown. By adding in all these extra elements your children will be working out—and improving their fitness—without even realizing it.
4. Make sports fun
This should be pretty obvious, but you'd be surprised how many parents push their children into one sport, when actually the kids' fitness would match something else. Let your kids pick the sports that they do, and encourage their enthusiasm. If they already have an interest in a sport, they're likely to put in more effort, resulting in superior performance and results.
5. Choose appropriate activities
To get the most from your kid's ability and energy level, it's important to choose suitable activities for their age and level of development. Toddlers and young kids could try swimming, soccer or dancing, while older kids and teenagers could try more specialized activities like tennis, basketball or football.
6. Feed your kids well
The food that you provide for your kids also plays a huge part in their fitness levels. Regardless of how many hours they spend playing sports, if they come home and snack on fast food and sugar, there will always be an element of unhealthy living. Feed your kids potassium-rich bananas and whole grains packed with carbs to boost their endurance and increase the efficiency of their workouts.
7. Make sleep a priority
The benefits of a good night's sleep on brain performance are well documented, but sleep is another important factor that you should make a priority if you're looking to improve your children's fitness levels. The body produces growth hormones during sleep, so if they get a good night's rest, your kids will wake with stronger bones, more resilient immune systems and organs which are ticking over healthily.
8. Let kids be kids
While organized sports play a big part in keeping your kids fit and healthy, you shouldn't lose sight of the fact that your kids are still young. Set aside time dedicated to play. Whether it's running around outside with the dog, riding skateboards round the neighborhood or playing in the fall leaves, your kids will burn energy and further their development if they're just having fun.
Keeping your kids fit and healthy is important for their well-being, but it's important for their development and social skills, too. There's a fine line between showing support and being pushy, but as long as you set a good example, provide an all-round healthy lifestyle and just let them have fun, your kids will end up happy, healthy and full of life.
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