More and more kids are suffering from a serious lack of exercise as they focus in on activities such as playing video games and watching TV. In some homes kids spend up to six hours (or more!) a day in front of the television. Some experts see this trend as a sort of national epidemic. Parents feel desperate; they’re throwing up their hands; the video game/television juggernaut seems too powerful a thing to combat.
May we suggest that a huge part of the problem is in this mindset of video games and television as a menace to be combated, instead of a potential good in its own right that merely needs to be monitored and controlled? It’s true—parents have had success in introducing physical fitness to their kids, but only when they approach video games and TV in an evenhanded way. Kids, after all, set great store by their video games and TV programs. The quickest way to alienate them is to tell them that these things are a 100% waste of time that should be eradicated from their lives.
The first step, then, in helping your kids become more physically fit, is to develop a philosophy in your home that is both balanced and progressive. You’ll want to keep in mind that physical fitness for kids comes down to two things: ( 1 ) physical exercise and ( 2 ) diet. Focusing on one at the expense of the other will not take care of the problem; in fact, it will lead to more problems. Physical exercise and a healthy diet are two legs, as it were, belonging to the same body. If one or the other of the legs is ignored, the body can’t move. Let’s look at some ways of approaching your kids moderately about getting more exercise and eating healthier foods.
Try to make it a “family affair.” That is, try to get the whole family involved. Ask your kids for their input when it comes to physical fitness. Try opening the discussion with something like this:
“Kids, television programs and video games are a fun and important part of your lives. I think it might be a good idea if you add some other types of entertainment and play to your schedule. I myself would like to eat healthier and spend more time outside; let’s think of some ways we can accomplish this together.”
Corny, perhaps, but you can say it any way you like. The point is to allow your children’s input to influence their (and even your) physical fitness routine. You don’t want your kids to think of physical fitness as a chore or punishment. You don’t want your kids to feel as though physical fitness is replacing an important part of their lives. The idea is to set goals, and change slowly but surely as a familyas a team.
Kids are eating too many processed foods these days. We’ve already established the fact that they’re spending too much time in front of the TV. So, you “attack” these two areas with all the love, creativity, and spirit of cooperation that you can muster. Make sure that your kids eat a helping of vegetables and fruits at every meal. Take them on hikes, take them to the pool, take them to the park. Be sure to get their friends involvedkids are much more likely to adjust to a change in routine if their friends are involved.
Physical fitness for kids is really a simple matter. Kids have a high metabolism and lots of energy. They don’t need to go overboard when it comes to exercise, and they don’t need a stringent diet. Simply adding a few hours of day of physical activity along with a potato instead of potato chips and real orange juice in place of a sugary substitute will bring about great changes in their physical fitness.