With the start of a brand-new year, many of us parents are thinking of ways to improve our own health going forward. For some of us, this means setting healthy New Year’s Resolutions. For others, it means simply approaching life with more of a focus on health and fitness. However, the New Year is also a great time to encourage your kids to aim for better overall health and fitness all year round. Here are some tips for helping your tweens and teens to get moving:
- Watch the Screen Time: One of the biggest impediments to physical activity is the boob tube, followed closely by all of the other screens we love (computer, tablet, smartphone). Encourage your kids to spend less time idly watching or playing video/computer games. Experts recommend less than two hours of this sort of thing daily. In addition, suggest that they build in some physical activity to go along with their screen time. Commercials are a perfect time for jumping rope, doing push-ups and squeezing in squats.
- Do a Little Each Day: The idea of starting a new exercise program or schedule can be overwhelming for a tween or teen who isn’t used to a lot of physical activity. Likewise, setting a major fitness goal may feel intimidating. In such a case, starting out slowly and building up to more physical activity may prove a better option. For example, your kid may find it easier to commit to taking a short walk after school each day or accompanying you in walking around the block a few times after dinner. Each week, your child can add another few minutes onto the afterschool or post-dinner walk. This approach can work for any type of exercise, whether it’s jogging on the treadmill at home, jumping rope, swimming, or working out to an exercise tape.
- Make It Fun: Often, kids are less interested in physical activity because it’s just not fun. Instead of encouraging them to engage in exercise just for the sake of moving, help them pick activities that excite them. If your child is the outdoorsy type, for example, joining an outdoor club that sponsors hiking trips or helping you in the garden (It counts!) can prove a good choice. Activities like dancing, martial arts classes, bowling, and ice skating can also provide a combo of fun and exercise. The point is that choosing activities your tween or teen enjoys will make exercising seem less of a chore.
- Choose a Sport: Some kids find exercising more fun when it involves team participation. Your tween or teen may find opportunities to participate in sports through school, a recreational center, a community organization, or a local league. A dislike of competition need not get in the way of participation in sports, however. Your child might enjoy running or non-competitive cycling instead.
Use the above tips to help your tween or teen explore options for getting more physical activity and improving overall fitness. And don’t forget to set a good example!