Making Activities Fun For You & Your Kids!
By Guest Author, Jennifer Landis
Obesity is a real problem, not just in adults, but in children as well. More than half of today’s kids will be obese by the time they reach 35 years old. And, if a child is already obese at a young age, chances are they’ll remain that way. This can contribute to a plethora of health problems including asthma, heart disease, mental disorders, and sleep apnea. However, forming healthy habits can create opportunities for your child to develop a more sustainable lifestyle.
Encouraging healthy habits isn’t always easy, but making these changes will have a lasting impact on their lives. By making changes now, you can set them up for a lifetime of better decision making when it comes to their health and wellness. There are a number of ways you can encourage your child to develop healthy habits this new year.
1. Take Them Grocery Shopping
Grocery shopping together can teach your child a lot about nutrition.
Reading labels and analyzing ingredients will help them recognize which foods are healthier and which foods they should leave out of the grocery cart.
Discuss where different food comes from and spend most of your time in the fresh, non-packaged food aisles. Fill your cart with colorful fruits and veggies and let your little one pick out a few items by themself to practice.
2. Make Healthy, Accessible Snacks
If you keep a cookie jar on the countertop, odds are your kids will reach for candy or sweets when they get hungry.
Instead, chop up fresh vegetables like celery sticks and carrots and keep them in containers in the refrigerator door. And be sure to fill your fruit drawer with no-prep needed snacks like tangerines, apples, grapes, and pears.
If you stock your fridge and cupboards with easily accessible healthy foods, your kids will be more likely to munch on them when they need a snack.
3. Sit Down and Eat Together
Eating in front of the television has become a way of life for many people and now, one in three children eat their evening meal in front of the screen.
But this relatively new habit may increase the odds of child obesity. TV interferes with natural cues about whether you’re full or hungry, leading to overeating or undereating.
However, having meals at the dinner table removes the distraction, encouraging social skills and allowing kids to tune into their bodies cues. This helps develop healthy eating habits and increases satiety at mealtime.
4. Limit Screen Time
Television isn’t the only screen you should be wary of.
Smartphones, tablets, iPads and other electronic devices can encourage a sedentary lifestyle.
Additionally, children who spend more than two hours in front of these screens can develop health issues like anxiety, depression, heart disease, and weight gain.
So, limit screen time to less than two hours per day and collect all electronic devices before bedtime to ensure kids are getting less screen time and more sleep.
5. Exercise Together
With only an hour or two of screen time, you may find there’s a lot more time for other activities in your day. Fill this spare time with physical activity and exercise. Get outside and go for a walk in the park or let your kids help you in the garden.
In colder weather, bundle up and build a snowman or go ice skating.
You can also encourage physical activity by letting your kids participate in school sports or clubs to keep them active all year long.
6. Create an Active Environment
Another way to encourage more physical activity is to build an environment for play and physical activities.
Set up a basketball hoop in your driveway or keep a soccer ball and nets in your backyard.
This way, when your kids get bored or high-strung, you can send them outside where the sports equipment is waiting.
You could also construct a playset for younger children or, if you love animals, consider getting a dog. Your kids will love taking the dog out every day to play fetch or run around the yard.
7. Make It a Family Affair
Of course, one of the best ways to encourage healthy habits in your children is to make it a family event.
Creating healthier lifestyles together and setting an example for your kids is essential to developing and maintaining lasting change.
Besides, doing things together as a family is more fun and provides exciting bonding opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t have had sitting on the couch in front of the TV.
So, instead of making healthy eating or exercise another task to check off your to-do list, focus on making these things natural aspects of life as a family. Make activities fun and your kids will want to participate, even if they do get a little sweaty, and you’ll all be well on your way to a more healthy, beneficial lifestyle.