Kids fitness has become a national conversation over the last decade. As childhood obesity grows, many parents are concerned about keeping kids active, and promoting good physical and mental health. Consider our top four tips for improving your kid's overall fitness level.
- Be a role model. First, your children need to see you set a good fitness example. This doesn't mean you must run a marathon while pushing your toddler in a stroller. Simply promote an active lifestyle. Walk short distances instead of driving. Take regular walks or bike rides around your neighborhood. Encourage kids to walk themselves instead of riding in a stroller once they are old enough. When asked to participate in an activity, such as when your toddler brings you a ball, take the time to do it. Go to a local playground. Use the swings and slides yourself.
- Provide alternatives. Exercise does not have to be structured or scheduled. Spontaneously have a family dance-off to your kid's favorite music. Throw a frisbee. Rollerskate, rollerblade or skateboard in a safe place. Play a game of hide and seek. Let your child choose the activity.
- Stay active even when it's cold. Sometimes it's hard to keep an active pace when the weather is not ideal. However, puddle-jumping in rain boots or making snow angels in your snow suit can be a lot of fun. Explore summer destinations, such as the beach, in the winter. Find a local indoor swimming pool or play area. Merritt Clubs offer indoor swimming lessons starting at six months of age and an indoor play area for children to use while their parents are working out. Many team sports and extra curricular activities are offered through the winter, such as hockey, arena football or dance classes. Find out what's available in your area.
- Emphasize the social benefits. Children do not often understand the health benefits of being fit. However, they do like being with their friends. Meet a group at the park, skating rink or other favorite spot. A group of researchers recently studied the effects of giving children peer mentors to promote physical activity. The study followed 800 children from 10 different schools. The results showed that students from the peer-mentored schools took 1,000 more steps per day and had better overall cardiovascular health. The students only participated in the peer-led activities once every two weeks. However, the social interaction was a catalyst for improved physical activity on a daily basis.
The benefits of keeping kids physically fit go way beyond fighting obesity. Experts agree being active improves their sleeping habits, posture, self-esteem, concentration, bone and muscle structure, balance, developmental skills, flexibility and social skills.
Merritt Athletic Clubs are focused on family health. Contact us to find out about the many amenities available to families.