5 Useful Tips to Teach Your Child to Stay Active

In the past 30 years, rates of obesity have doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a long list of the adverse health effects of obesity--some of which are lifelong effects--and it all starts with the family. Sometimes, there might be a genetic predisposition. At the same time, it’s entirely preventable. No one source can claim to have all the answers to staving off obesity unless we drill down to the basics: eat well and exercise.

Easier said than done, right? But it pays to set the right example for your children, and they’ll be happier, healthier, and have better lives because of it. Try these tips from Active.com to keep your kids (and maybe even yourself) active.

1.    Volunteer to coach (or assist in coaching)
Even if your child is in organized sports, it’s probably not enough exercise. Researchers found that most kids spend at least half the time at practice not moving. Coaches have to make sure everyone gets a turn and their full attention, which can mean a lot of waiting around for other kids. So in an hour-long practice, only 30 minutes are spent in motion. That’s only half of the recommended time for daily activity. Volunteering to help out at practice means that you can run drills or keep kids moving around until it’s their turn with the coach.

2.    Keep it fun
Organizing an overly-complicated game of flag football might be fun for you, but if your kids would rather chase down a road or play frisbee in a monkey-in-the-middle kind of game, let them. Making a game with too many rules or too much focus on form is a great way to make them want to do something (anything) else. Your job, as the parent, is to encourage and facilitate activity, not to police it.

3.    Turn off the TV
It’s so tempting to walk in the house, turn on the TV, and plop down to de-stress from the day, isn’t it? But here’s the problem: kids are increasingly likely to watch massive amounts of TV if their parents do. So be the change you want to see, and turn off the TV in favor of shooting baskets outside or taking a walk.

4.    Don’t use food as a reward
Occasional treats are one thing, but rewarding your child with ice cream for doing their homework? Promising candy after cleaning their room? It’s a literal recipe for obesity. In addition to rewarding them for things they should be doing anyways, it teaches them to eat even if they aren’t hungry. It’s the wrong message. If you need to find rewards, choose something like extra playtime.

5.    Encourage them

Kids whose parents support them in high-activity sports (soccer, hockey, basketball, etc) tend to have more fun and stick with their sport longer than parents who don’t. In addition, finding ways to instruct while encouraging your child will also help them learn to improve without feeling like quitting.

How do you help your child stay active?