As adults, we tend to imagine treadmills, dumbbells or our favorite Zumba Class when we hear the word “exercise.” Use of equipment and organized group classes keep us on track, but for children, exercise looks a little bit different. Kids exercise by staying physically active and moving their bodies throughout the day.
Children who are more physically active have lower body fat, stronger bones, and stronger muscles. Physically active children have increased academic performance and memory, as well as decreased rates of depression. Encouraging regular physical activity in childhood will help to establish lifelong habits that prevent serious health conditions- such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, or high blood pressure.
We all sit more than we used to. Screen time is on the rise and unfortunately it’s taken away from physical activity time. In our last blog post, we talked about how we can place healthy limits on our children’s screen time. That’s a great start, but how can we also encourage more physical activity?
It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that children and adolescents should have 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous activity daily. Preschoolers should have more, at 120 minutes of active play each day- with a split between adult-led activities and unstructured free play. Parenting can be hectic, but with 24 hours in the day, we can make this happen!
It doesn’t have to be all at once. 60 minutes could mean one hour of full on fun outside, or it could mean four 15-minute trips outside throughout the day to burn some energy. Every day is different, so your physical activity could look different each day.
Don’t be inactive for more than one hour at a time. If an hour has gone by while sitting, it’s time to get up and move! This is a good rule of thumb and can help keep your child on track for their physical activity goal.
Make family time an active activity. Have some fun! Go for a walk around the neighborhood or at a local park. Scope out the nearest playgrounds. During the summer, swimming is a great way to get plenty of physical activity without breaking a sweat. Your children will thank you, and the best part is- this will benefit you, as well!
Look here for tips on Raising a Fit Preschooler