My kids can’t sit still for a minute. And although it’s exhausting just watching them, I am also envious at their seemingly endless amount of energy. Whether it’s playing hockey or running and jumping through leaves, exercise is important for kids to have strong bones, a healthy heart, and a lower risk of the many diseases associated with excess weight.
However, exercise can benefit more than just their growing bodies. Kids who get the recommended one hour of physical activity each day reap a list of benefits that can help them both inside and outside of the classroom. Parents of active kids may even be more likely to find that their kids:
• Earn higher grades in the classroom
• Are better at concentrating
• Have stronger conflict resolution and problem-solving skills
• Are more confident
• Exhibit more creativity
• Sleep better
While there’s something to be said for a little downtime, many American kids just don’t get enough exercise. Research done by the YMCA, which surveyed more than 1,600 American parents with children between the ages of 5 and 10, showed that 58% of children spend less than 4 days a week playing outside because parents find it more convenient for them to spend time in front of a television or computer. And for teenagers the percent was even less.
So as parents, it is our job to help. Organized sports are fantastic, but there are plenty of other activities that can get the heart pumping.
• Start the day by walking your kids to school. It’s an opportunity not only for some fresh air and exercise, but also some great conversation.
• Have the kids rake the leaves (and then jump in them) or shovel snow (and then jump in that, too).
• Dance party! We do this about four times a week. After dinner, we crank up the tunes and just boogie.
• Arrange active playdates with other parents. Kids can have a great time with their friends while splashing in a pool or enjoying a game of laser tag.
• Get the neighborhood kids together for a weekly game of street hockey or basketball.
• Take advantage of the beautiful fall weather and go on a hike through local parks or woods.
So put down the iPads, turn off the television, and get moving!