From Couch Potatoes to Jumping Beans: 7 Painless Ways to Keep Kids Healthy
While numbers of obese children in other countries rise, the U.S. has lowered the percentage of obese 2- to 5-year-olds from 13.9% to 8.4% in just about eight years. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the battle for healthier kiddos is over. What’s slowing us down?
Perhaps the fact that we’ve literally slowed down. A 2015 study showed that 82.7 million Americans age 6 and up were physically inactive in 2014. While we might be taking steps to eat healthier, we’re still behind on getting active. How can we take steps to change this number?
At ECR4Kids, we like to do things the fun way. Read on for 8 simple ways to keep kids active every day!
1. Be realistic and positive.
A recent study showed that an astounding number of parents don’t know that their preschool child is overweight. Start with a general doctors visit, and find out for sure if your child is at a healthy weight. If the doctor recommends a weight loss plan, it’s important not to shame your child or get rid of the cookies in the house.
Don’t freak out. This is the perfect time to be two things: realistic and positive. The first attitude will keep you moving forward on the weight-loss course, and the second will keep your child in a positive frame of mind. See this as an opportunity to get more active and have more fun with your kiddo!
2. Start gardening together.
Springtime is here, and it’s a great time to get outside and plant the seeds for a healthier lifestyle! If your child’s school has a garden already, encourage him to get involved. If your school does not offer a garden, consider joining a community garden, or starting your own!
Not only will you reap the benefits of a fresh, healthy crop of fruits and veggies, but you and your child will burn between 200-400 calories per hour while digging, planting, weeding, and watering plants.
3. Slowly build active habits into your daily routines.
About to take an elevator? Take the stairs instead. About to get in the car to drive to the store down the street? Consider walking. All of these small tweaks can add up to big changes. Your child may get tired faster, but you’ll be teaching him that small changes are important.
Is your child at least five years old and ready to take a bigger step? Head to Commit2Ten, and set up a 30-day activity calendar with your child based on his age. Check out the inspiring videos from other kids taking the fitness challenge—they’ll keep you and your child inspired!
4. Invest in active play products instead of electronics or video games.
Help your child see that “fun” isn’t just found while watching TV or through games on an iPad. Invest in some active play products that will keep your child moving! Looking for ideas?
If you have a backyard, our Gus” Climb-N-Crawl Caterpillar will keep your young child and friends active and occupied all day long. Playing outside is far more exciting when costumes or play-pretend is involved. Get imaginations geared up with a Tree Top Climb and Slide, or allow kids to transform into pirates with the Buccaneer Boat.
If you have an older child, the Jumbo 4-To-Score—a favorite childhood game that’s made for outdoor fun—is a great pick. Another way to get an older child off the couch? Get them a fitness tracking device. It’s amazing how motivating and exciting fitness becomes once it’s trackable.
5. Make electronics and TV time more active.
Not all video games require your child to sit in one place for four hours. Choose active video game systems with fun dancing, sports, and band-themed video games that keep kids sweating.
If you have young kids, it’s easy to make TV time active. Simply choose children’s shows with plenty of directed movements or lots of songs like Barney or Yo Gabba Gabba. Use that time to dance, play, and participate along with your child.
6. Go Geocaching.
This is a super fun activity that the whole family will enjoy! Essentially, “geocaching” is a worldwide treasure hunt that anyone can participate in. Create an account online, then go out and explore your neighborhood for trinkets and other loot that other geocachers left behind.
You don’t have to pay a thing with a free account, and it’s a great way to keep kids engaged and exploring. Start with a search in your neighborhood for a weeknight adventure, then feel free to expand your search on the weekends. You might just find an Altoid tin with a note inside, but trust us—it’s still very exciting for kids!
7. Try a new sport or activity.
Your child may declare that they hate soccer, basketball, and volleyball—but has your child tried dance? Tennis? Swimming?
Explore different sports and activities close to home, and allow your child to try some out. If you can’t afford to pay exorbitant fees, simply search for free or low-cost activities for kids (it’s the magic of Google)! Who knows—your child may discover a passion for a particular sport that lasts a lifetime. And along the way, he’ll be boosting his health and learning to try new things. It’s a win-win situation.
As you and your child embark on the journey to better health, you may find that you enjoy life more. It’s a side effect of getting healthy and exploring the world around you! At ECR4Kids, we’re all for fun educational experiences and tools. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and learn about more ways to boost your child’s healthy growth! Stay up-to-date with ECR4Kids for classroom tips and tricks, as well as giveaway information.