Exercise is a fundamental activity for maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. For kids, these activities should be enjoyable and and incorporated every day in a way that does not make it feel like a chore.
“Regular exercise has a myriad of health benefits for a young and developing body,” says Dr Tony Tanious of House Call Doctor.
“These include maintaining a healthy weight and fitness level, strengthening muscles, developing new skills, honing coordination and even bonding with others through team sports.”
While most little adventurers relish at the thought of running, bike riding and playing with friends, there are some simple tips to help keep your kids healthy and active.
Make it a habit
“It only takes 30 days to make a habit,” says Dr Tanious. “Set your family a goal for exercise and healthy and try it out for 30 days. You will find it soon becomes second nature.”
This could be anything from going for an afternoon walk together every day, ensuring you eat nutritious meals for dinner each night or getting the recommended hours of sleep per night for 30 days.
Small changes to your diet and daily routine can have a tremendous impact on yours and your children overall wellbeing.
Try team sports
Team sports are an excellent way to get little bodies moving and to foster relationship and personal skills.
“Team sports are highly beneficial for young children,” says Dr Tanious. “Not only do they provide an outlet for activity, they encourage friendships, personal development and teamwork.”
This doesn't have to be limited to team sports like netball, football or basketball. If your kids aren’t particularly interested in these, they could participate in swim classes, dancing or gymnastics. While they aren’t directly team related they still encourage social interaction and keeps them on their feet.
Ditch the tech
While it may seem impossible to ditch technology in today’s world encouraging kids to get outside rather than play on their phones or laptops can help keep them active and healthy.
“Limiting your child’s access to smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices before bedtime will assist with a good nights sleep and may encourage them to be more active during the day,” says Dr Tanious.
“Electronic devices disrupt the bodies melatonin levels, which is the hormone responsible for the natural sleep and wake cycle.”
Instead of playing on devices before bed try reading books to wind down for the evening. During the day try to keep them busy outdoors as much as possible.
“Simple things like teaching your children to grow their own vegetables or encouraging them to help out in the garden will keep them active,” says Dr Tanious. “Spending time outdoors will also increase your child’s vitamin D levels, assisting with energy, mood and overall wellbeing.”
Remember to practice sun safety when spending time outdoors and keep hydrated.
Get the whole family involved
Kill two birds with one stone by including exercise in quality family time. “Making exercise enjoyable for kids is one of the best ways to foster a life-long positive relationship with working out,” says Dr Tanious.
Working out can be fun for the whole family! Family fitness can be as simple or complex as you like. To keep it simple try a nice bike ride on the weekend, swimming, a mountain climb or just a walk around the neighbourhood.
Make nutritious foods fun
It’s not uncommon for kids to turn their noses up and vegetables but they don’t have to be boring or bland. “Making nutritious foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, fun can make encouraging healthy eating easier,” says Dr Tanious.
Here are some tips to make nutritious foods fun:
Make faces and shapes from food
Make it bright and colourful
Use fun names for the vegetables and dishes
Encourage your kids to help in the kitchen
Try growing your own food