The percentage of children in America that are overweight has risen dramatically in the last 10-15 years. Researchers say that 15% of children age 6-9 are overweight. Unless something is done, these children continue having weight problems and both their health and their self esteem are jeopardized. Naturally parents have a responsibility to their children to give them a healthy start in life. Parents need to take a proactive approach to helping their children become more active. Active living is going to make a huge difference in both the physical and mental health of your child.
So what can you do to find activities for your child that will help him or her lose weight? Start with yourself. You cannot expect to instill the importance of exercise in your children if you are not the proper example to follow. Children look to their parents for guidance. If you have children, you know how well they can mimic actions. You can slowly get them used to a more active lifestyle when you yourself are practicing what you preach.
Encourage exercise whenever you can. Eating healthy and participating in aerobic activity will work wonders in improving your child’s weight and overall health. You can walk, jog, ride a bike, roller blade, etc. anything that gets your kids moving will help. Encourage your child with healthier alternatives to the activities that they are used to. Do not allow older children to drive to nearby locations. Instead have them walk to a friend’s house or to school.
You do not have to quit some of your less healthy activities “cold turkey.” If your child is addicted to video games or the television, set some limits. Make them very simple at first and continue cutting back. Replace time that was formerly spent in front of the television with activities that get your child involved. Help them to lose weight by making activities fun alternatives. You may be surprised at how physical activities may grow to replace the less active lifestyle that your child once had. Below are just a few more examples of activities that promote healthy weight in children:
• Join a little league/community sports team
• Attend ballet classes
• Learn how to swim
• Have your child help with the yard work
• Take a family hike
• Take evening walks (choose a day, or a couple days of the week when everyone walks as a family)
• Play tag
• Play outside
• Visit the park
• Go to the zoo, water park, etc. (lots of walking, and running)
• Go ice skating
• Join a karate or gymnastics class
• Play with/walk the dog
• Go on a nature trek; look for bugs, plants, etc.
• Get involved with scouting
• Join a volunteer group (community service can be labor intensive)
Know that children may rebel against change. As a parent you must be firm on the limits and new rules that you will set in order to improve the health or your child. You must also remember that you are a role model for the lessons that you teach your children. In times when it is difficult to get out and exercise, they will look to you for encouragement and support. Hypocrisy should have no place in a household that is trying to get back on a healthy track. You are all in it together. Do not allow your children or child who is overweight to feel like he must battle his weight alone. Family time exercising together promotes better all-around health. You can grow closer to each member of the family while improving weight and have an enjoyable time in the process!