With increasing rates of obesity, exacerbated by various COVID restrictions since 2020, there is no better time than now for you and your kids to get active. For younger kids, whose energy seems to show no bounds, this can be as easy as going to playgrounds and allowing them to run, climb, swing, and slide as they please. However, as children get older, staying active becomes more complex as school demands increase, other interests arise, or caretakers become busy and only sometimes oversee outdoor activities.
The importance of staying active from childhood and into adulthood stems from the decreased risk of more serious health problems. Many chronic health conditions stem from poor habits developed in childhood, such as diets high in unhealthy fats and concentrated sugars or sedentary lifestyles. Thus, being conscious of bad habits early on can help kids become healthy adults.
Physical activity can look quite different from age to age. For toddlers and preschoolers, engaging in open play will foster their gross motor skills, such as skipping, hopping, riding a tricycle, and kicking or throwing balls. While some young children possess the understanding to participate in team sports at this age, it should not be expected. In fact, it may lead to frustration and an eventual dislike for sports. For school-aged children, team sports may be more appropriate as they learn to socialize and expand their understanding of teamwork. This is when certain personalities and interests become apparent, so if you’re noticing your child is not interested in team sports, consider an individual sport like biking, tennis, or martial arts. Finally, teenagers may have their own opinions by this age. They likely have a schedule of after-school activities of their choosing, but making sure they do get about an hour of physical activity about three times a week is important, whether it be through school functions or at home.
Use this new year to set some new goals and get moving! Physical activity is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle regardless of age. The best way to get active and stay active is to do it together.