Children enjoy exercising naturally. Young people getting enough exercise has historically never been very much of an issue until recent years with all of the technological advances of modern times. Both parents are usually working and when they get home are too tired to participate in exercising with their children. The problem of exercise is indeed one of all ages, but poor habits practiced by children are particularly concerning, as this sets a pattern for life.
There are technological problems; children spend more time watching television and playing video games than in the past. Cell phones are not only limiting exercising, but studies are showing ties to depression in children. Even in schools, with budget cuts come cuts to physical education programs and fear of litigation has severely limited what children are allowed to use to play. This creates a more motionless recess period.
The American Heart Association recommends children get at least an hour or two of exercise a day. Many children do not have that much play time in the school day, and once they get home, activity is even less. Unfortunately, lack of exercise creates a vicious circle in children as well as adults. Lack of physical activity creates less overall energy and depression in children, both of which lower exercise even more. Physical activity lowers chances of obesity, and obesity as well reduces energy levels. It is essential today for parents to make sure children are getting the amount they need to stay happy and healthy.
Besides the many health issues related to lack of exercise, getting plenty of physical activity also has several benefits to the child. Children who are more active tend to be more active adults. When a child is more active during the day, it has been proven they show improved performance in school and behavior in the home as well. Exercise improving physical development has also shown to go hand in hand with mental development. Hand-eye coordination is improved as is cognitive development and problem-solving abilities involved with solutions to activity. Also, frequent exercise leads to higher self-esteem. Everything you want for your child is gained from exercise.
Now the question is how do you help encourage this?
The most obvious is to cut down on use of technology. Limit computer, cell phone, and video game use to 30 minutes to an hour a day. Same with television. Children will not be bored and will find something to do. If they are not able to think of anything else but technology, you may consider addressing addiction issues, as this is somewhat common in children, they are less able to regulate the mental dopamine boost from games and may suffer withdraws and not be able to think of anything else but the next game session.
Use exercise as a reward. Taking your child to the park to play is a simple way to get them exercising, they are out of the home element and in a different place where all the technological comforts are not available, getting your child's mind off of them.
Finally, try to remember to allow a child to engage in physical activity in the home. Try not to get upset when your child is running back and forth in the house flying like Superman making swooshing noises during your favorite show. Try to be patient and remember, as long as he is happy and getting exercise, it is far healthier than quiet video game time, even if it may be less peaceful at times. Health and happiness should come first.