Help Your Family Get Active—And Off the Couch

help-your-family-get-active-bigstock-families-playing-soccerWhen you think back on your childhood, you can probably recall spending seemingly endless days playing outdoors. Unfortunately, due to the popularity of television, technology, and video games, many of today’s children won’t have memories like these because their lifestyles are much more sedentary. Nevertheless, being active is crucial for good health and also a really great way for your children to burn off their extra energy, which will improve both their mood and yours. Indeed, regular exercise can help anyone lead a more joyful and healthy life, so it is especially important for children to develop these habits early on.

The best way to help your children in this regard is to be a positive role model—show them that being active is fun, and they will follow your lead. In addition, try taking the following steps to help your family get up off the couch:

  • Be supportive – If your child shows interest in a physical activity—whether it be basketball, ballet, surfing, karate, skateboarding, or tennis—be sure to encourage him/her to spend time in those environments, and let him/her develop at his/her own pace.

  • Praise effort and offer positive reinforcement – If your child makes a healthy choice, be sure to acknowledge it.

  • Drive less – Whenever possible and safe, walk instead of driving. Park in the far corner of the lot and walk to the store. Or, if you’re riding a bus, get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way.

  • Take the stairs – Skip the elevators and escalators and take the stairs instead.

  • Give gifts that encourage physical activity – Instead of the latest video game, give your child a bicycle, rollerblades, a jump rope, or a ball—and then offer to teach him/her how to use it.

  • Do household chores – Cleaning the bathtub, loading the dishwasher, washing the car, vacuuming, or mowing the lawn for an hour can burn more than 100 calories. Give your child an allowance or other incentive to help out around the house.

  • Play together – Go for a bike ride, climb on the monkey bars, play tag, or walk around the block after dinner. This will provide a great opportunity for “together time,” give your children the attention they crave, and result in excellent physical activity for everyone.

  • Walk the dog – Instead of simply letting the dog out, take the family pet for a long walk every day.

  • Limit TV and technology time – Monitor the amount of time your children spend watching TV and using technology, and limit it to no more than one hour a day. Also, to help you keep tabs, move the TV out of the bedroom.

Studies show that when a child excels in sports, he/she typically wants to match that performance in every task, which can lead to better performance in school. Further, an active childhood not only facilitates an all-around healthy lifestyle, it also builds the foundation for the social, psychological, and mental skills your child will need as an adult. Finally, overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults. Each of these factors highlights the importance of embracing a physically active lifestyle as a youngster.

For further information on how to keep your family healthy, please browse our online series of health articles. If you have questions, feel free to contact or visit the South Tampa Immediate Care walk-in clinic in Tampa.