For most of the country this has been an unusually long and difficult winter, but spring finally has arrived! With the warmer weather comes the opportunity for children to get outside and exercise more. Children and adults can both benefit from regular exercise. According to many leading experts, including the American Pediatric Association, The National Association for Sport and Physical Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regular exercise in children can result in:
- stronger muscles and bones
- a leaner body because exercise helps control body fat
- less likely to become overweight
- decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- possibly lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels
- a better outlook on life
Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, children who are physically fit sleep better and are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges — from enjoying a rigorous game of tag to studying for a test.
Parents can encourage their child to stay physically active by:
- Setting a positive example by leading an active lifestyle yourself.
- Making physical activity part of your family’s daily routine by taking family walks or playing active games together.
- Giving your children equipment that encourages physical activity.
- Taking young people to places where they can be active, such as public parks, community baseball fields or basketball courts.
- Being positive about the physical activities in which your child participates and encouraging them to be interested in new activities.
- Making physical activity fun. Fun activities can be anything your child enjoys, either structured or non-structured. Activities can range from team sports or individual sports to recreational activities such as walking, running, skating, bicycling, swimming, playground activities or free-time play.
- Instead of watching television after dinner, encouraging your child to find fun activities to do on their own or with friends and family, such as walking, playing chase or riding bikes.
- Be safe! Always provide protective equipment such as helmets, wrist pads or knee pads and ensure that activity is age-appropriate.
Enjoy the beautiful spring weather and get outside with your child and “get