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Never too Young to Sweat

Do them a favour. Get your kids moving

By Tina Kissavos

In my younger days, my mother could barely keep me inside the house. If I wasn’t riding my bicycle, I was climbing a hill, cheering in a squad, doing flips in gymnastics or roller skating with friends, but one way or another, I was active. With the recent peak in technology it’s no surprise that most children and teenagers spend the majority of their time in front of a screen, whether it’s a TV, computer screen, or handheld device.

According to Statistics Canada, the prevalence of weight gain and in children and adolescents is on the rise over the last generation. Much of this is due to diminished social wellbeing. Just like adults, active children experience the same benefits from regular physical activity: weight control, better sleep, self-esteem, stress reduction, stronger muscles and bones, and a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Active children are also more likely to be alert, successful, and academically motivated. While these are all great reasons for kids to get physical, the big question remains: How to inspire a sedentary child to adopt a more active lifestyle?

  • Make it fun. Enjoying an activity makes you want to do more of it. Simple.
  • Take notice of their effort with encouraging words. When people recognize improvement, it builds self-esteem and makes them want to continue.
  • Family outings to the indoor pool, hiking trail, bike path or local park aren’t too physically demanding and feel more impromptu than something designed to get your kids moving. Involve the kids in planning weekly activities.
  • Make activities both personality and age-appropriate. Nothing stops a child quicker than boredom.
  • Set a good example. I often see parents say one thing and do another. If you want a physically active child, become a physically active parent.
  • Take advantage of the four seasons. You may not like the cold, harsh winter but activity shouldn’t hibernate just because you do. Indoor ice-skating, bundled up snowshoeing, and even throwing snowballs can help everyone in the family get moving.
  • Give back to the community. Walkathons, fundraisers, fun runs, and other charity events are on the rise. Not only do these activities encourage social awareness they provide a great excuse to get moving.
  • Get a dog. A pet that needs to be walked and taken to the park is a way to not only teach your child responsibility but a wonderful way to encourage more activity without being too obvious. Morning, after-school, and before-bed walks for Rex or Spot are great incentive to get out of the house.
  • Household chores that call for a little more elbow grease and sweat are a great way to incorporate more physical activity in your child’s routine.
  • Gift-wrapped activity. Why not give the gift of a basketball, tennis racket, roller blades or a ski pass? If your child’s inactivity is due to a lack of confidence, presenting them with a gift that shows faith in their abilities is priceless.

Spring 2015, Vol 7 N°2

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