Johnny comes home from school, throws his bag in a corner and immediately picks up his gaming console and gets to work. His next-door neighbour, Sally, has just finished dinner and is settling down in front of the television set. These two scenarios are too common in many homes today as children grow more attached to the trappings of technology. How can a parent get his/her child actively engaged in outdoor activities to lead a healthy lifestyle? The following gives you a list of choices:
- Be active yourself. Let your child see you walking, going to the gym or engaging in some form of exercise and he/she is likely to follow.
- Have family outdoor activities. At least three days a week the family should spend time together doing one of these – walking, biking, jumping rope, playing catch or some other type of ball game.
- Plan for the weather. Unfavourable weather does not have to cramp your exercise routine. A basketball hoop in the basement, a ping pong table, bowling gear, even a ball can all help to keep your child off the couch. Movement games such as Simon says, red light, green light are also fun and require no equipment. If you have space and can afford it, install an indoor climbing structure or children’s gym.
- Limit screen time. Set limits as to how much time should be spent on the computer, playing video games, or watching television.
- Follow your child’s lead. If your child is athletically inclined, this can be easy, but if he/she is more of a nature or art lover or likes to read, it can be more of a challenge. For the nature lover, you can arrange hikes through scenic trails where you can collect things together. For the art lover or reader, you can visit museums and libraries, but be sure to include some walking time on those trips.
- Organise an activity party – For your child’s next birthday party, take him and his friends to a skating rink, an indoor climbing gym or a bowling alley. Failing that, get the stereo out, put on some brisk music and let them dance.
Incorporating physical activity in your child’s life can be challenging, but with a little effort and creative thinking, you can ensure them a healthy lifestyle as they get older.