Since obesity often affects more than one family member, making healthy eating and regular exercise a family choice can improve the chances of succeeding at weight control in the long-term for the child or adolescent. There are many ways for families to get moving and making it fun.
by Karen Sibal
Having Fun While Getting Active
Since obesity often affects more than one family member, making healthy eating and regular exercise a family choice can improve the chances of succeeding at weight control in the long-term for the child or adolescent. Please make sure you consult with a medical professional before introducing any physical activities to make sure it is ok, especially if your child has health issues. There are many ways for families to get moving. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
Walk to School – We did it as kids and we know our parents did too. But today’s children spend so much time in the car, whether they are going to school or being dashed to after school activities. We depend so much on our cars for everything, primarily because of their convenience and the fact that we are always so rushed for time. There’s a lot to be said for walking to school: not only do children get their hearts pumping, they get a healthy dose of fresh air and a boost of positive energy to start each day. In fact, if you also get up earlier each day and walk with your kids to school, you will also benefit from the exercise as much as your kids!
Get Your Children Involved in Chores Around the Home – Your children can do simple things like using the vacuum, cleaning the floors, and helping out with yard work to burn calories. Make doing chores fun by having your kids compete for who gets their work done the fastest. Promise a cool “treat” for the winner – like a trip the dollar store or the library, maybe staying up a little later past bedtime – but make sure your treat is anything but food!
Get More Active as a Family – Discuss with your family the importance of getting active. There are lots of ways to get moving with your gang:
- Take a bike ride together
- Go on a walk through your neighbourhood
- Go hiking at a local park
- Take everyone to the community pool for a family swim
- Go to the gym together – many gyms have activities for children as well as adults
Encourage Your Child to Play Sports – Your child doesn’t have to be the athlete of the year! Playing sports is all about learning new skills, getting active, socializing and having fun. It could be traditional sports that you expose your child to like soccer, baseball, swimming, volleyball, hockey or tennis. You can also encourage them to play ping pong by giving them top ping pong paddles as a gift. Or you could try something a little off-beat such as Celtic dance lessons, yoga, rollerblading or the martial arts. By encouraging your child to find an activity they are passionate about, you’ll be building their self-esteem and overall sense of emotional well-being and who knows … they just might enjoy getting active all the time!
Be a Positive Role Model – Each day, there are countless small ways through which you can show your children how to become more active:
- Walk to the corner store instead of taking the car
- When you go to the mall, don’t park in the closest available parking space to the door. Park a little out of the way to get some extra exercise
- Use the stairs. Avoid elevators and escalators where possible
- Limit the amount of time that you spend watching T.V. and surfing the Internet
- Work out regularly – find activities that you love doing and stick to them. My personal workout routine involves swimming one day and walking two days a week with the occasional bike ride in between. My kids join me sometimes, but they know Mommy has her special “fun” time alone as well.
Karen Sibal is a freelance writer, researcher and communications consultant. She is the owner of Sibal Writing and Consulting, a firm that specializes in public policy research, effective communications and web solutions for all types of organizations. Over the past 16 years, Karen has done work for local and provincial governments and several not-for-profit organizations. She is pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration in September 2006.
Karen has written extensively on children’s issues and has helped with launching an association for mothers and children in her community. She is a member of the Halton-Peel Communications Association and a board director with the Halton Multicultural Council. She has also served as the managing editor of a government child welfare journal.
Karen lives with her husband and two girls, ages 3 and 9 years, in Oakville, Ontario Canada. For more information about Karen, please visit her web site at www.sibal.ca or call 416-580-9097.
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