One of the best ways to keep our kids healthy is to keep them active!
Several research studies show us that kids are not getting enough physical activity. A 2017 study of school aged children in the United Kingdom https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5408437/ showed a decrease in activity between grades 1 and 4. Activity decreased by 4% in boys and 11% in girls. However, it was more concerning was that sedentary time increased by 20% in boys and 23% in girls during that time period. Sedentary time is time spent sitting, often in front of a TV or video game.
I have seen this trend in kids, including my own over many years. Young kids do a lot of active play, while older kids are more apt to entertain themselves with some type of electronic device or even just sitting and reading. This becomes a big issue when they are in middle and high school, unless they are involved in some activity that keeps them moving (sport, dance, theatre, music). The problem is that kids who are not very active are not staying fit. They are becoming more prone to adult diseases of inactivity such as diabetes and heart disease. Low activity during the day also makes it difficult for many kids to sleep well at night.
How can we get our kids off the couch and more active? This can be challenging especially if they are not inclined to join a ‘team’ or organized sport?
Here are just a few ideas that I have; but it would be great if parents put their heads together to come up with creative ideas to keep our kids moving.
- Give kids chores to do at home—yard work, house work. If you are working alongside your child, you will keep them working longer.
- Walk the family dog—A dog is as good as any exercise machine. It is often easier to get your kids to go for a walk with you, if you are walking the dog.
- Put a basketball hoop up on your garage or carport—shooting baskets can keep many kids active for quite a while. Family games of ‘HORSE’ or ‘PIG’ can be a great after dinner activity.
- Get your kids involved in some type of after school activity—art, theater, dance, or a ‘sport’.
- Look for some no-cut, low pressure sports for your kids—middle and high school kids: track in the spring, cross country running in the fall, Nordic skiing in the winter. Grade school kids: Bend Parks and Rec programs.
- Swimming lessons, any time, but especially in the winter (Juniper Swim and Fitness and the Athletic Club of Bend have lessons available year-round). In the summer try to get to the pool just for fun a couple times/week.
Limit sitting time! Kids are sitting for a good part of each school day, and they tend to sit while doing their homework.
- Why not have your kids stand at the kitchen counter or at a sit-to-stand desk to do school work—they may concentrate better and get some ‘wiggles’ out as well as decrease their sitting time! We really do not want much sitting at all outside of school time.
- Putting a limit on screen-time—phones, computers, tablets, as well as TV for entertainment is important! Aim for less than 7 hours/week for non-school work screen time.