“Don’t fall into the trap of thinking more activities necessarily means more physical activity,” advises Dr. Todd Smith, a family practice physician in Cottage Grove, MN. Scheduling too many events for you child can mean more time in the car, a greater tendency toward eating fast food, and an increased stress level. “It’s easy for parents to have a false sense that their kids are active.” Sometimes, Smith says, you just need to “turn off the play station or television and send the kids outside.”Or inside as it was with Maggie yesterday... Check out her 28 seconds of rock star play--it's got more jumping and movement than you see from a number of kids at her Wednesday night Introduction to Soccer class!
It's this kind of play that gets kids excited to keep moving (especially when you videotape it and let her watch it on your computer over and over again!). If you're in need of a little activity yourself, think about joining in (I'll save that video for another post!). I promise some family moments you'll never forget.
Here are 10 suggestions for keeping the fitness fire alive and kicking in your family:
1. Let the kids help develop a list of potential activities. Think about creating a list for each season of activities the whole family can enjoy together. Let the kids take turns choosing from the list each week.
2. Invest in family gear. It doesn't have to be expensive--Frisbees, bats and balls, even a water sprinkler can get the family out and running. Just make sure the kids have options and the activities focus on getting them up and moving.
3. Be patient. Use activity and fitness time to get your children excited about moving. If anyone has problems keeping up or catching on, make sure he or she doesn't feel left out or awkward.
4. Be creative. Simple tasks like washing the car, raking the yard, gardening and snow shoveling can be fun family activities. More traditional activities like walking the dog and ice-skating are fun too, but remember to keep the emphasis on time spent together being active.5. Read books that stress healthy living. Look for books and other everyday items that include people making activity a regular part of their day.
6. Plan outdoor activities whenever possible. Get the kids out of the house. Think about setting limits for the amount of time your kids can spend in front of the television and computer.
7. Visit your local park, recreation center, or nature center. Just bringing your children to the playground on a regular basis encourages them to use their large motor skills and burn off some energy. Look for nature paths or paved park trails so kids can walk, run, or Rollerblade with you in sight.
8. Invest in the kid essentials. Buy toys and equipment that promote physical activity. Make sure your child's bike seat is at the correct height at the beginning of each summer. Seats should be just high enough to cause a slightly bent knee. Encourage and model the use of helmets for bike riding and rollerblading.
9. Emphasize fun! In order to build long-lasting behaviors, make sure kids are enjoying their physical activity. It is, after all, about building life-long habits and behaviors for the entire family!
(Saved for last because, yes, I do think organized sports are FUN! Just don't overdo it!)
10. Let your child investigate sports alternatives in organized league play. Most recreation centers offer community leagues for soccer, basketball, and more. Call your local center to get a seasonal list of athletic offerings.
Now it's your turn... What are your favorite ways you see your kids whoop it up and keep active? Are you joining in or getting a piece of the action? Post your experience here and share the fun!
Have a safe, crazy and wild week!
Laurie (the family drummer)