According to the World Health Organization, children and teens aged 5 to 17 should get at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. Unfortunately, this can present a constant struggle for parents, especially with the world’s digital transformation. Exposed at an early age to TVs, smartphones, and video game consoles, children and teens nowadays have more screen time than active time.
Obviously, technology isn’t all that bad. However, it makes the challenge of getting the kids up and off the couch that much more difficult. But if you’re among the millions of parents experiencing this dilemma, don’t fret. Below are just a few ideas that can help your children get their daily dose of exercise.
You don’t have to look at electronic devices as the “enemy.” Indeed, you can use your children’s familiarity with gadgets and technology to your advantage. Choose consoles and games that specifically require physical activity to play. The Nintendo Wii was massively popular because of this, with a slew of titles that required players to stand up and move their body to accomplish goals.
Aside from sports games such as boxing and fencing, there are also numerous dancing video games available. When children think of exercise as something they can enjoy rather than something they have to endure, they’ll be more willing to get active. Join your kids when they play these games to create fun memories. As a bonus, you’ll also get in a bit of exercise for yourself.
Backyard Sports Tournament
Sports are good for children in a variety of ways. Obviously, it keeps them active. It also helps them grasp the concept of following rules and playing fair. In addition, sports allow children of all ages to build bonds with their fellow children and thus nurture their emotional health. You can visit local parks and gyms for this purpose, or even set-up a mini sports stadium at home. To make it an even more engaging and fun activity, invite friends, classmates, and family members for a tournament. Get some aluminum grandstand seating for full effect, and decorate with streamers, flags, and pompoms (while the bleachers can also serve as exercise implements when you’re not using them for seating).
Modify Game Mechanics
If you’ve already introduced your children to games like Uno, Jenga, Twister, and the like, try incorporating new mechanics. For example, if someone puts down a Draw Four card in Uno, the next player should do four jumping jacks first before drawing the cards. If you’re playing hide and seek, the seeker can bring a set of cards with certain physical activities indicated in them. The ones who get caught have to pick a card and perform the activity.
Let your creativity fly in coming up with new mechanics. You can also involve your children in developing the new rules. What’s great about this exercise is that you can stimulate your child’s imagination. It also eliminates the element of boredom because you’re technically playing a different game every time.
Needless to say, pillow fights are a fun way to get active. Admittedly, pillow fights are not necessarily unique. However, because they’re so much fun, it can be easier to convince your children (especially the younger ones) to jump around and have a quick tussle. As your kids grow older, you can also create different challenges. Instead of literal pillow fights, you can turn them into pillow challenges instead. As an example, you can have your kids balance pillows on their heads and do some squats. The one who does the most squats without the pillows falling off will win. With fun mechanics and a bit of a reward at the end, your children will be more inclined to play. Of course, this is also a good opportunity to get involved in the fun!
Treasure Hunt Around the House
Treasure hunts are a great way to incorporate both physical and mental gymnastics in your children’s playtime. Place the clues farther away from each other and make sure to include areas in and out of the house to really get your children moving. You can even include simple household chores, such as putting away clean socks, as part of the tasks. This way, you have truly a holistic game.
Keep in mind that every child is different. If one option doesn’t work, simply try another activity until something captures their interest. Don’t give up so easily and remember that it’s not too late to start. It’s easier for children to grow into healthy habits as they grow older, rather than grow out of bad ones when they’re adults. It’s also a good idea to ask your child’s doctor if they have any advice. The bottomline is that your children should have physical activity every day and you can get as creative as you want to achieve this goal.