Staying physically active is part of a healthy and happy life. It’s important to start healthy habits for your kids at a young age by making physical activity a priority in your family. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines states kids should get 1 hour or more of physical activity a day. Your physical therapist is a great resource to establish life-long patterns of healthy physical activity. They can devise safe exercise programs that reduce pain, restore flexibility, and increase strength and cardiovascular endurance.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when thinking about keeping your family physically fit and active, provided by the American Physical Therapy Association!
- Plan weekend family activities involving physical activity, such as hiking, swimming, bicycling, mini-golf, tennis, or bowling.
- Help your child plan physical activities with friends and neighbors, such as skating or softball.
- Have your kids brainstorm a “rainy day” game plan of indoor activities involving fitness games such as Wii Fit or Dance Dance Revolution.
- Remember that your family does not need to join a health club or buy fancy equipment to be active. Walking isn’t costly and it’s easy. So is designing a backyard obstacle course. Weights can be made from soda or detergent bottles filled with sand or water!
- Provide positive rewards for your child when he or she engages in physical activities, such as workout clothes, a new basketball, or an evening of roller-skating. Providing positive feedback is also important.
- Be your child’s “exercise buddy.” Plan daily walks or bike rides and set goals together for increasing physical activity rather than for losing weight. It’s also great “bonding” time!
- As you schedule your child’s extracurricular activities, remember to plan time for exercise and activity as a priority for the entire family. Don’t just “squeeze it in.”
- Encourage children to try individualized sports such as tennis and swimming. Studies show such activities are the basis of lifelong fitness habits.
- Parents and children can do exercises while watching television (or at least during commercials), such as sit-ups, push-ups, or running in place. Discourage snacking or eating meals while watching.