To raise healthy kids requires extra effort by parents. There are germs, junk food, and the call of electronic screens that fight our efforts. One of the hardest parts of parenting healthy kids is getting them to exercise.
When “Outside” Was a Place Healthy Kids Wanted to Be
Living on the edge of the city limits, my kids and I enjoyed the advantages of country living (space to roam, little traffic, and unblocked view of sunsets) along with the percs of city living (fire and police protection, neighbors we loved, and city utilities). As children and preteens, they roamed the neighborhood with friends. Long summer days outside were interrupted only by my requirement for some reading time in the heat of the day. I never worried about their getting enough exercise.
What’s Keeping Kids Inside?
It’s not so easy to get kids outside today. There is the strong lure of electronic devices. Groups of kids huddle together in front of one game console or play online from their separate homes. By middle school, it’s easy for those games to override outdoor activities. In fact, gaming can quickly become an obsession.
As parents, we know that exercise, fresh air, and sunshine are important to healthy kids. So, how do we compete with the devices that demand so much of their time?
5 Ways to Get Your Kids Moving
- As you talk to your kids about their bodies being temples of God, include the need for physical activity.
- Insist that kids go outside for some activity when they first get home from school. They need to be physical after an entire day of sitting. Trampolines, bikes, skateboards, basketballs—the options are endless. Even walking around the neighborhood, a favorite activity of middle school girls, beats sitting inside.
- Get involved in physical activity as a family. Hiking and biking are two options for families. So are basketball, baseball, and soccer. Kids can’t resist friendly competition against their parents.
- Teach them that exercise is cool. The kid-friendly website Kids Health gives them health tips and reasons to exercise.
- Put a time limit on the use of electronic devices. Once kids realize they can’t use their devices, they may voluntarily wander outside because they’re “bored” in the house.
Teaching your child to make exercise a daily habit is a gift that keeps giving for a lifetime. Healthy kids grow up to be healthy adults.
Question: What are some benefits, in addition to exercise, of getting your family outdoors together?