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Keeping a healthy and active lifestyle is important not just for adults, but kids too. Whether you're looking to get your children on an active path, or simply want to pry them away from their mobile phones and computers, here are five fun alternative ways on how you can motivate your little ones (and yourself ) to get moving and stay active!
Kids Around the World
In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) states that children should do at least an hour of physical activity every day1
to help them stay fit and healthy. However, the Health Survey
conducted in 2015 found only 22 percent of youngsters aged five to 15 had met the guidelines2
. In Canada, only 7 percent of kids aged five to 11 meet the guidelines for 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity a day3
. Meanwhile, in Australia, national data from parents indicate that only 26 percent of Australian children aged two to four are meeting sedentary guidelines – that is, spending less than an hour in front of a screen each day4
With reports on the physical activity of youngsters in 38 countries across six continents, carried out by the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance
, it is becoming clear that too much time spent in front of a screen, or cosied up indoors, is taking its toll. That’s why it has never been more important than now to find new ways to inspire and support your little ones to enjoy a more active lifestyle.
1. Be a Role Model
Lead by example and show your little ones that exercise is important by getting in on the action yourself. If you already exercise regularly, try inviting the kids along to come pick you up after class, or sit and watch the fun (if it’s allowed). You can also look out for parent and child-friendly fitness classes in your area too. Better yet, try taking up a whole new hobby you and the kids can enjoy together like geocaching, trampolining, or even kickboxing.
2. Fun Family Challenges
Make some lifestyle changes that you and your whole family can get involved in, and set yourself some fun and healthy challenges, whether that's committing to a monthly family game day or going for a bike ride around the block after school. You can also motivate your kids with incentives for when they have successfully completed a challenge too – things like a picnic on the beach, a healthy lunch at their favourite restaurant, or new fitness gear. That said, the biggest reward will be the time you spend having fun and exercising together as a family.
3. Think Inside the Ring
While traditional sports remain an excellent choice for most youngsters, there are still plenty of other options for those who aren’t inspired by your usual sports like tennis, football, or gymnastics. Take the circus for an example. Capturing the imagination of adults and kids alike, circus skills such as juggling, tightrope walking, and aerial acrobatics all offer huge health benefits in a non-conventional setting. This is something that is bound to draw (and keep) their attention.
4. Dancing Delights
Whether you want to channel your inner Dance Mom, or simply wish to set aside half an hour a couple of times each week to boogie on down in the living room, dancing is a brilliant way of encouraging reluctant children to exercise. With the option to dance as part of a team or individually, this is the perfect alternative exercise not just for your little social butterflies who love making new friends, but also for those who enjoy flying solo.
5. Experiment with Exercises
If your child is no longer enjoying their active time, encourage them to look for alternatives, and adapt to their changing tastes – whether it’s a new martial art, Zumba, or even parkour!
[su_spoiler title="Sources" style="fancy" icon="plus-circle"]
1. NHS (http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/physical-activity-guidelines-for-young-people.aspx), last accessed in April 2017
2. NHS (http://www.content.digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB22610/HSE2015-Child-phy-act.pdf), last accessed in April 2017
3. CBC News (http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/physical-inactivity-of-canadian-kids-blamed-on-culture-of-convenience-1.2648059), last accessed in April 2017
4. Active Healthy Kids Australia, citing Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Health Survey: Physical Activity, 2011–12 2013: Catalogue No. 4364.0. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. (http://www.activehealthykidsaustralia.com.au/siteassets/documents/ahka-2016-long_form-report-card.pdf), last accessed in April 2017
Bupa Global (https://www.bupaglobal.com/en/exclusive/pregnancy-and-parenting/children-fun-in-fitness), last accessed in April 2017
Kids Health from Nemours (http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/active-kids.html?WT.ac=ctg), last accessed in April 2017
NHS (http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/childhealth6-15/Pages/Getactivewithyourkids.aspx ), last accessed in April 2017[/su_spoiler]
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