Many children I talk to during my school visits as Miss Virginia admit to feeling like exercise is sometimes boring or too difficult. In our society, where the average child spends over seven hours a day on technology/media, it’s about time we get inventive about making sure they have every opportunity to live a long, healthful life. Living a more active lifestyle doesn’t have to be something dreadful or even something all that noticeable!
Using the principles of the Together CountsTM program and incorporating small changes to be less sedentary can lead to a big transformation. If begun at a young age, your guidance can teach children decision-making habits to take with them into adulthood.
My dad and I have pull-up contests and track our 5k times to see who is improving. Challenging your child to a soccer game in the front yard, or maybe even a prize incentive for who eats more vegetables that week could be the trick to get them motivated. You can enter programs online to get awarded for your activities at https://www.presidentschallenge.org.
2. Around the House
If your kids are already required to help with chores, give them more active tasks like walking the dog, mowing the grass, carrying the laundry baskets up and down the stairs or vacuuming. If you want to keep it varied, put the tasks in a jar for the child to draw their one active chore each day/week.
With warm weather on its way, skip movie nights for something more active like bowling, mini golf, bike rides in your neighborhood, a community dance, roller-skating or ice-skating, swimming in the pool or lake or a hiking trip. Quality time together will allow for conversations about healthful choices and build teamwork and trust with your kids. Commit to making exercise fun!
4. Get on Their Level
Encourage technology–just not the sedentary kind. If your child enjoys video games, maybe replace some of their game time with a Wii Fit or Just Dance session. Our Dance Dance Revolution game is a family favorite and always brings lots of laughs with my brothers. Encourage your child to use the Internet to look up a nutritious recipe they want to help cook for dinner one night, or wear a pedometer to track how many steps they take each day.
5. Give Them Control
Let your child choose to try something new! Whether it’s a sports team or a fruit or vegetable in the grocery store, kids like to feel like they have options. Let your child create a new “healthful” house rule on how everyone can be more active, like not sitting still during TV commercial breaks. Teaching individual responsibility will go a long way in children eventually taking ownership of their own health.
How does your family incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine? Share within the comments!
Rosemary Willis wrote this post on behalf of the Together Counts™ program. Rosemary is a Chesapeake native, a Senior studying Government and Health Sciences at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. She enjoys singing in an a cappella group, going to the beach, making people laugh, doing international service projects, and teaching group fitness classes. As Miss Virginia, she travels thousands of miles a month promoting her platform, “Get Moving Today for Healthier Tomorrow”. You can follow her year on twitter @MissVirginiaMAO and her Blogs on www.missva.com.