Being physically active is an important part of keeping your family healthy. Adults and children should aim to be physically active at least 30 and 60 minutes each day, respectively. If you can’t do 30-60 minutes all at once, try aiming for 10 minutes a few times each day. Physical activity is defined as anything that gets your body moving, children and adults should try to raise their heart rate and lightly sweat. Your health benefits will increase the more time you spend being active.
Activity habits that are formed during early childhood increase the likelihood of being an active adult. Help your child develop a lifelong love of physical activity and meet the goal of 60 minutes a day.
Make physical activity a family affair – start by setting a goal to move more as a family. If 60 minutes of activity seems overwhelming, start with small increments of 5 to 10 minutes and gradually increase this time to 20 to 30 minute sessions to achieve 60 minutes each day.
Most importantly, find ways to make physical activity fun – shoot hoops, take a bike ride, walk the dog, or just get out and play! Try new activities like skateboarding, in-line skating, yoga, swimming, and dance.
Try the following activities together, or come up with some on your own to make fitness fun for everyone:
Keep track of family activity levels by posting an activity log on the refrigerator and acknowledge the person(s) who achieve it regularly.
As a parent or caregiver, role modeling an active lifestyle is important too. Schedule time to be active on your own – show your children you are committed to being active.
Most importantly, support your child in being active – whether playing with friends or participating in organized physical activities.
Get physically active together, as a family! The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children be active for at least 60 minutes per day. Some of that time may come from physical activity offered in schools through physical education classes or classroom brain breaks. For adults, it is recommended to participate in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week. Be a healthy role model, and make physical activity fun at home by playing family activity points.
Encourage everyone to think of fun activities that get you up and moving, off the couch, and away from the TV. Incorporating new games and learning new activities is one way to keep physical activity fun. Make getting more physical activity and exercise a family challenge through family activity points.
In addition to active family fun, it’s important for children to also try other forms of activity. Children don’t need expensive lessons and equipment to participate in regular physical activity. Moving is what kids do naturally when given the opportunity to spend time outdoors.
Help children with active play by having a selection of games, toys, and low-cost equipment on hand to engage them, including:
Community activities are another great way for children to learn different recreation skills. Contact the local community recreation center to find free or low-cost classes that help youth learn basic skills while having fun.
Many school-age children also enjoy organized activities. For example, playing on a sports team can teach children about sportsmanship and teamwork while building self-esteem. For younger school-age children (5-8 years), noncompetitive sports leagues where children can learn basic skills and have fun in a supportive environment are best. For older school-age children (9-12 years) competitive team sports are appropriate, but should still emphasize fun and learning.
Helping a child choose the right type of activity is as important as doing the activity. Consider the child’s interest, physical and mental abilities, body type and temperament when selecting an activity. Help guide their choice by offering appropriate options, but the decision should be largely left to the child.
Whether playing with friends or participating in organized physical activities, supporting children being active for 60 minutes a day will help them to maintain a healthy weight as they grow, build skills and confidence, and develop a lifelong healthy habit of moving.
Support your family’s efforts to be active every day. Make a goal to move more as a family. Spend less time in front of TV, computer, and game console screens. Create active time to spend with your child and, most importantly, remember to make fitness fun for everyone.
Increases in technology have left many children adopting sedentary lifestyles. In fact, children regularly spend more than 1,023 hours in front of the TV in a given year, that’s 123 hours more than they spend in school during a year.
There are ways to set limits on screen time that are fun and easy to follow, which may help children miss it less – or not at all.
Screen time is defined as any inactive time that involves a media “screen.” Examples include TV, video games, hand-held video games, text messaging, DVDs, and computer use not related to school.
As a family, discuss different ways you will all be able to limit screen time:
Remember, balance is key – media use does not need to be all-or-nothing. Media can play an important role in teaching children critical lessons, so choose your family’s media choices wisely.