Regular physical exercise is a lifetime necessity, but it is especially important for kids during their growing phases. Unfortunately, many youngsters are not sufficiently active, both by choice and lack of opportunity. Physical education (PE) is no longer a part of every school’s curriculum and organized sports can be expensive or are simply unavailable. Many parents are on their own trying to support their kids’ athletic ambitions.
Healthy Eating and Physical Exercise
Are the Most Important Ingredients
For a Child’s Health
Besides healthy eating, getting enough physical exercise is the most important ingredient of every child’s upbringing. However, too many kids have little else to do in their free time than listening to music or playing video games. With their parents working long hours, there is hardly any chance for them to exercise as a family.
Parents need to make their children’s physical fitness a priority, no matter the circumstances. Throughout childhood, but especially during rapid growth phases, kids need to move their bodies to grow up strong, build bones and muscles, develop a healthy heart and lungs, burn calories and, last but not least, build up self-esteem, confidence and competitiveness. They won’t be able to make up for in later years what they miss out on at a young age.
Your kids may be more inclined to engage in physical activity if you are a good role model. Parents who work out regularly and stay fit themselves are much more likely to pass their habits on to their kids.
Playing games and sports as a family does not have to be a time consuming or costly enterprise. Bicycling in the park, going on walks and hikes, even raking leaves or working in the garden will be beneficial for family members of all ages. So try to get everyone involved, including the dog.
Some adult sports may be too challenging for young children. Older siblings often have too many unfair advantages and the youngest ones get easily left behind.
Also, as a parent, you should not develop unreasonable expectations of your child’s athletic potential. You don’t have to get your offspring ready for the Olympics every time you go for a run or a swim. Sports should be fun and not anxiety-provoking. Especially younger siblings may need extra care in this regard. If your child has a particular talent, it will show in time.
Physical challenges should be age-appropriate. When children learn new skills and have fun at the same time, they will more likely stick with their new pastime, sometimes for the rest of their lives. Don’t put pressure on your child in terms of competitiveness and don’t try to satisfy your own ambitions vicariously through your child’s efforts.
Make sure that all activities are safe and the right protective gear is being used at all times, e.g. helmets, gloves, protective devices for knees, shins and elbows, etc. Don’t ask your children to do things they are not ready for, such as skate boarding, skiing or jumping off diving boards.
Teach your kids not to be reckless. Many unnecessary sport injuries can be avoided with a little aforethought and prudence. There is no point in pushing your child to the point where she suffers serious and perhaps lasting damages.
Communicate the value of physical health and fitness to your children whenever possible. There are few things in life you can pass on to them that are as important and as meaningful.