In our digital age, we all know only too well that our lives are becoming increasingly sedentary. This is no different for our kids. The digital age has lured our kids from the streets and gardens playing with their mates, to passively engaging with a glass screen for what seems like hours at a time…or at least that is how it is in my family.
Getting the balance right between physical exercise and passive couch activity is tough. We know from experience that after a full day’s work, all we want to do is relax and unwind. And our kids are no different, but we need to remember that it is now that we lay the groundwork for good adult behaviors.
It is recommended that our kids do a minimum of between 30 and 60 minutes of physical activity at least 3 times a week. Some experts actually recommend 60 minutes each and every day. This must include the opportunity to increase their heart rate and should also focus on bone and muscle strengthening. No easy task, I hear you say!
First things first, don’t panic. Take a reality check and look at what your child already does. Consider how many times they have physical education lessons each week and ask them what they do during their breaks at school. If they are very active, such as playing ball games, then they may be well on their way to meeting the target. If not, there are a few simple things we can do to instill good behaviors.
The most obvious thing to do is to reduce their time accessing devices, or make it a bargaining tool to promote an active lifestyle. A step counter with targets could be used as “currency” for buying device time. Set up a family competition using step counters and enjoy the benefits for the whole family.
Consider the daily routine. Are there journeys you take in the car that could be swapped for a bike ride or a brisk walk? Chores that are tedious for you like buying bread, milk, and bananas could be used as an opportunity to develop independence and more importantly physical activity. A ride on a skateboard or scooter in our house to get bread and milk is a popular and much sought after activity.
Not all kids like team sports for lots of different reasons. These can be things like fear of the ball, stage fright, or preferring to work on their own. This is not the end of the world and there are rafts of different physical activities out there to cater for all sorts of different kids. Swimming is a fantastic all round physical workout, but consider things like yoga, golf, tennis, martial arts, and inline skating to name a few.
As parents we face a tough struggle. The pull of technology is undeniable. However, the importance of physical activity for our kids is critical if we are to develop healthy and confident young people. And you know…there are bonuses. I love my Friday evening with my football moms, sorting out the problems of the world while my dear daughter is practicing with her team.