Physical activity - tips for parents
It is important to encourage your children to lead active lifestyles from an early age. This will help them form healthy habits early on in life and reduce their risk of obesity and cancer when they are older.
Here are some tips and advice for encouraging your children to keep active:
Set an example
- The best way of encouraging your child to be active is to be active yourself.
- Make time for the entire family to participate in regular physical activities that everyone enjoys. Try walking, bicycling or skating.
- Take your children on special active family trips like walks, bike rides, camping or ski trips.
- Encourage your children to walk or cycle to school if possible. Studies have found that people who walked to school were more active after school and throughout the evening.
Finding the right activity
- Keep activity fun - it shouldn’t seem like a chore or punishment. For younger children, try fun games like tag, cops and robbers or hide-and-seek. Try to associate activity with having fun from an early age.
- Find activities that suit your child. If you push them to try a sport or activity they don’t like, they may associate activity with negative feelings.
- If your child isn’t sporty, there are still many ways of working activities in with what they do like. For example, if they’re a keen bookworm, walk or cycle with them to the local library.
- Different sports require different combinations of skills. Ball sports like tennis emphasise hand-eye coordination, while activities like martial arts or skating emphasise balance and body awareness. Encourage your child to try activities that suit their individual strengths.
Around the home
- It is important to promote activity, rather than exercise. Even the small bits of activity that your children do throughout the day will have beneficial effects on their weight.
- Reduce the amount of time they spend on sedentary activities like watching television, playing video games, surfing the internet or talking on the phone. Studies have found that the more time that children spend watching television, the greater their risk of being overweight.
- Your children may enjoy active chores to do like vacuuming or washing the car. To avoid boredom and routine, rotate their chores or do them together.
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