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Children love to play and be active and the benefits from this are not just limited to good physical health but also extends into healthy mental health. To benefit their health, children over 5 should be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day. This activity doesn’t have to be structured sport – anything that gets them up and moving is positive!
By encouraging your child to exercise, you help them form habits that will hopefully extend into adulthood that promote a healthy lifestyle and a good understanding of how to stay healthy.
We’ve put together a few tips for parents to assist in encouraging these healthy habits.
- Choose activities your child likes and that are fun: This will help your child retain interest and prevent it from becoming a “chore”.
- Make sure there's lots of variety and your child tries different things: By exploring a range of activities, your child becomes more exposed to the variety of ways they can keep their body healthy.
- Build physical activity into your child's day: Walking to school, washing the car together or helping in the garden are some simple ways to integrate activity into your daily family life.
- Reward your child with an activity like a visit to the park rather than with screen time: This is a good way to promote positive daily choices and combine exercise into the reward itself.
- Praise and encourage your child: Positive reinforcement is a beneficial way to encourage children to continue beneficial habits and activities.
- Think outside the box: Not all children are born with the same aptitude or physical ability so it is important to consider your child’s personality, physical limitations and routine. Structured team sports are not for every child - playing down at the park throwing a frisbee, jumping on the trampoline, going for a ride with Mum and Dad to the corner store or even having a backyard water-bomb fight can be simple ways to integrate physical activity.
- Put your child in charge: Allow your kids to take turns making suggestions and coming up with plans so that they feel heard and are comfortable with the activities. This also allows kids in households with siblings to each feel valued and get an understanding of what his or her siblings find enjoyable. It also promotes children working together with the understanding that each of them and their needs are as valuable as their own.
- Be active yourself and involve the whole family: Children look to their parents as role models so it is important that they see their favourite people doing the very thing they are being asked to do.
Encouraging your kids to exercise doesn’t have to be hard. Little children don't need much encouragement to stretch like a cat, swing like a monkey, swim like a dolphin, run like a cheetah, or jump like a bouncy kangaroo. Doing these things will provide many memorable moments and the children will have oodles of fun while they’re doing it.
Tweens and Teenagers will happily break out into dance if you put on music they enjoy listening to. Dance orientation video games are also a way to incorporate exercise into screen time. Riding their bikes up and down the street and around the park are some other ways to get older kids into daily exercise. Whatever the activity, keeping the fun in it is the best way to help them form healthy habits that should extend into adulthood.
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