Contributor Article by Bri Dietz
Consistent physical activity at a young age sets the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Ideally, kids should be incorporating body control activities like balancing or moving their arms and legs to music, locomotor activities like running, skipping or jumping and sending/receiving activities like throwing, catching and kicking (for older children) everyday. Even more important is that they like developing these skills and enjoy exercise. Here are 6 tips to help get your kids moving in a healthy and family fun way!
Encourage active play. Active play experiences that are led by children can help them discover what their body can do. Having a collection of play items that range in texture and size can stimulate creativity and activity. Dig through a pile of leaves, sand or snow. Build with blocks, wood or old boxes or create an obstacle course. Splash in puddles or dig in mud! This type of play is important in helping your little one develop physical, intellectual, social and emotional skills.
Make active play a family affair. Blast some music, distribute play instruments and have a dance party! Bike, scooter, or rollerblade together. Grab a ball and head to the park. Activity as a family will help strengthen bones and muscles, but will also help the family connection grow.
Try yoga. Yoga is a place for kids to experience physical activity without being right or wrong. There is no winning or losing which can be a good option for those who shy away from competition. Yoga can help improve flexibility, coordination and concentration skills. A fun way to incorporate daily yoga is with yoga pose cards or a children’s book that tells a story and includes a pose or movement with each page (we love ‘Good Morning Yoga’ in our house).
Walk the dog. Don’t have a dog? Offer to walk the neighbor’s pet! This is a good way to get the whole family moving together and can also offer children a way to practice responsibility. Interactions with animals have also been shown to raise serotonin and dopamine, which are the chemical building blocks to feeling good. Playing with a dog as a family is sure to be a fun, active time.
Check out community events. Fun runs, 5K’s and community races are usually family friendly and open to children! Training and building up to a race can be a great family bonding activity, as well. Walking or running is encouraged and proceeds from these events usually go to support a good cause. Another option that offers a way to get some exercise and benefit the community is joining a local clean up project. It might be the beach, park or neighborhood- but it will keep your children moving and give them a sense of accomplishment.
Hobby classes/organized sport. Lastly, organized classes and sports are a great way to encourage movement, socialization and in some instances, teamwork. The key here is to really find an activity your child loves! Whether it be dance, karate, golf, rowing, surfing, snowboarding or soccer, having fun should be the first priority with any sport. Focus on process and less on the outcome, especially as children and experimenting with what hobby or sport appeals to them.