There are two primary causes for childhood obesity – poor diet and sedentary lifestyle.
While the American lifestyle poses some challenges, preventing or overcoming childhood obesity does not have to be a difficult thing to tackle. Other than diet, the other big thing you can do is help your child become more active.
When you move your body, you burn calories. It’s that simple. You also learn the joy of being active. Today too many children are found sitting in front of their computers. They’re found using their iPods, playing their video games, or they’re just sitting in front of the television. This is unhealthy and a sure way to gain weight. The key is to get your children active.
Here are ways to increase the activity levels of your children:
#1 Help your children find activities that they enjoy
Exercise does not need to be “exercise.” In fact, you’ll have a tough time convincing children to join you at the gym for a spin class or to run around the track. However, football, dancing, martial arts, and badminton are fun activities that your children can enjoy. The key is to find activities that your children are interested in. Here are a few options to consider:
- Dancing – break dancing/hip hop, ballet, tap, jazz
- Ice skating/Hockey
- Rock climbing
- Martial Arts/Muay Thai/Jiu jitsu/karate
- Bicycling/Mountain Biking/BMX/Cyclo-cross
The list really could go on and on. There’s no end to the number of fun activities children can learn and participate in. Check out your local YMCA for options and leagues.
#2 Support your children
It’s tough to try a new sport or activity. It’s even more difficult if you’re not used to moving your body. It can be very embarrassing if you’re overweight. Furthermore, it can be even more embarrassing if a little exercise makes you feel out of breath. However, children are never going to move beyond the embarrassment and discomfort without a little push.
Parents and adults need to support children to be motivated and confident, and to work through the challenges and struggles. They will come out as better people in the end. And imagine how great they’re going to feel when they persevere and learn new activities. They’ll have fun while losing weight in the process.
#3 Get active with your children
Sometimes the only way to get children to be more active is to support them by exercising with them. You can ride bikes together, or go for walks and on hikes together. Take a martial arts class together. It’s a great opportunity to be a role model for your children. It can also be a bonding moment that allows you to create wonderful memories for your family in years to come.
Children learn by the actions of the adults around them. When you embrace movement and activity in your life, your children are more likely to follow suit.
In addition to the tips and strategies outlined above, consider putting a limit on electronic devices. Limit the time children can watch television, surf the internet, play video games, or use their iPod. Experts recommend no more than two hours a day. That’s still a lot of time. You should notice that your children won’t miss the electronics anyway if they’re out having fun and getting active.