Activity, Fun & Nutrition: Why Kids Need to Be Active and Eat Properly, and How Parents Can Lead
With obesity on the rise and technology consuming so much of our time, children need to be given the opportunity to develop their movement skills and be guided toward a healthy lifestyle now more than ever, and parents need to be their teachers. If they're not taught to be active and mobile at a young age it can pose all sorts of health risks as they get older, and even cause them to develop social anxieties. So here are some tips for keeping your kids active and healthy, which will lead to them having a better future.
Children should have at least 60 minutes physical activity each day. This should be adult led and focus on fundamental movements such as running, jumping, skipping, along with balance, agility and coordination.
Active play should be vigorous and increase a child’s heart rate. Get your child’s heart rate elevated. To do this try combining running and jumping with less active ones like catching. Once they're old enough, this is where organized sport is ever-so important. Organized sport not only gets kids moving but helps them develop fundamental coordination. It also gives them an opportunity for social interactions and to make new friends. Games like Hockey, Soccer and Baseball involve many different movements, will build confidence, competence, and add teach your child social skills. Plus, it increases educational success and cognitive skills, fitness, physical health, mental health and self-esteem. Enforcing healthy lifestyle habits now will lead to an active for life attitude!
Being active with your child, from when they are little all the way through high school, is equally important! It will keep them moving longer and gets you up and moving as well. You don't always have to run in the race but you can be a cheerleader, a coach, the retriever or the timer. There are lots of ways to actively engage to keep your kids moving: play catch with them or kick a soccer ball around in the back yard, take them golfing, for a bike ride or a hike, or go public skating or skiing/snowboarding in the winter. And give your time! Encourage your kids to get excited about activity by doing it with them! It is also a great way to spend quality time together without the distraction of electronics!
Focus on Fun
An active lifestyle does not always have to include competition! The best part about sport and activity is playing with your friends and being encouraged by those you enjoy being with! As kids get older, there is plenty of opportunity to learn about competition and experience winning and losing. Keep the focus on fun and your kids will grow up fit, healthy kids that are active for life!
(AND the best motivator of them all: a dog!)
Every time you enter the grocery store with kids they are subjected to brightly coloured packages filled with candy, chips, pop and highly processed foods! So here are a few learned tips:
Avoid aisle shopping! Hit the produce aisle first and let them pick a favourite fruit and a new fruit as a special treat
Get an air popper – you can make all sorts of delicious popcorn using sea salt, cinnamon or nutritional yeast
Buy sparkling mineral water to add to natural juice to make a bubbly drink
Blend Banana’s, yogurt, a little unsweetened almond milk or coconut water and other fruit of your choice to make popsicles
Make your own fruit leather – the cost of the dehydrator may seem large initially but over time it saves money and you can have all sorts of fun experimenting
Make iced tea (no sugar added) to have available rather than juice! It is a nice change from water and can be very hydrating! Some favourites at my house are Mint, Rooibos Market Spice and Jungle Breeze from the Tea Centre
Have cut up veggies, natural nuts, bananas, apples & oranges available to them
Get them helping in the kitchen!
Peeling, chopping, washing – let them learn to help themselves to fruit & veggies and how to prepare them (if at all)
Let them pick a favourite dinner each week that they can help make. Taco’s are easy and kids will get lots of practice chopping, mashing (avocado) & grating
Pick a simple baking recipe that kids can participate in
Don’t forget to get them started on helping with setting the table & cleaning up – that way everyone has more time for fun later!