Fitness that begins in childhood lasts a lifetime. If children start at a young age, learning to be physically fit and exercise, they will lead healthy, happy lives and avoid the plague known as obesity. And unfortunately, it's more and more common to have a child that is not only overweight, but is clinically obese and may have relating illnesses such as diabetes. As a parent, you obviously want to spare your kids the mental and physical problems that come with being unfit. Obviously, outdoor activities promote physical activity and help your child maintain good health. But sometimes, like in the winter or in the middle of a rain storm, your child may not be able to go outside and play. So here are some ideas for how to get your kids moving indoors.
The first and probably most important thing you can do to keep your kids active and physically fit is to turn off the TV! Nothing is going to keep a child from moving like a television. So whether it's limiting the number of programs they can watch or the time they can play video games, it's important to limit the numbers of hours they're allowed to sit on their bottoms in front of the TV. You could simply limit screen time to two hours a day (which is still probably too many hours) or give them the option of watching two of their favorite shows a week.
Make it easier on yourself by removing the television from your children's bedrooms. Put the TV somewhere central in your home so that you always know when it's in use. If your child is allowed to play video games, choose games for them that require movement. In a Mayo Clinic study, kids who traded sedentary screen time for active screen time more than doubled their energy expenditure. The possible exception to this is video games that promote movement, like "dance-dance revolution."
So now that the TV has been turned off, your kids are looking for something to do…how can you keep them moving indoors? Well, obviously they won't be able to build their endurance by playing basketball or tennis in the house. But they can improve their strength and flexibility indoors.
No, this doesn't mean your eight year old should start lifting weights. There are other ways to improve strength than weight lifting. Activities like push-ups, stomach crunches, pull-ups, and other exercises help tone and strengthen muscles. Children also incorporate strength activities in their play when they climb, do a handstand, or wrestle. So encourage your kids to wrestle or "rough-house" when they’re trapped indoors (this may take some patience on your part- it may be a good idea to encourage them to play away from your nice living room). Another way to keep your kids moving indoors is to help them improve their flexibility. Look for opportunities every day to stretch when they try to get a toy just out of reach, practice a split, or flip over the couch.
Here are some other ideas to promote activity indoors.
Be silly. Let younger children see how much fun you can have while being active. Run like a gorilla. Walk like a spider. Hop like a bunny. Stretch like a cat.
Get in the game. Play catch; get the whole family involved in a game of tag. Try classic movement games such as Simon says or red light, green light.
Count your chores. You might even make it a friendly challenge. Who can pick up their toys the fastest? Who can finish cleaning the bathroom first? Who can take out the most trash?
Put your kids in charge. Let each child take a turn choosing the activity of the day or week. Batting cages, bowling and fast-food play areas all count. What matters is that you're doing something active
The bottom line is this: Make it fun to be active, even if you're trapped inside.