Here are some ways to help create a healthy, active lifestyle for children.
A child’s external appearance may not always be a true indication of what’s happening on the inside of their body. They can be skinny on the outside with a high internal body fat percentage, so appearance isn’t an effective gauge. Even if weight is not a problem for your child, you still shouldn’t let them consume a ton of junk food and sit around all day. It’s important to understand that children need regular physical activity in their lives.
The American Heart Association states that an increased level of physical activity for children can lead to a decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life. This reason alone should be enough to inspire you to help your child get up off the couch and start moving. So, here are even more reasons why physical activity is good for them:
The wonderful health benefits associated with regular physical activity may be just the thing to convince you to motivate your child to get moving. Trust me, as a mom to four young kids, I understand that your determined young child or grumpy teenager may care less about their long-term health and would much rather eat chips and play video games. So, here’s a list of five ways you can motivate an inactive child to get moving:
Trying out various activities until something sticks is a great approach to creating life-long habits. Don’t make a big deal out of the experience, just simply say, “I thought we could all go and try X today for fun.” Make sure it’s an activity that has you all moving, and see if they ask to go back.
A simple pedometer can create a challenge that not only burns calories but creates many fun conversation and interaction. This is perfect for pre-teens (my kids love to compete to see who gets the highest number), but I’ve also seen this simple method of recording daily movement be effective with teenagers and adults.
Get creative with a daily rewards system that recognizes healthy choices. Pick a gift or family outing that you know will motivate your child to keep up with their activities long-term.
Be a good example and get active with your family. Children love to emulate their parents, so set a good example by making your own health a priority.
Make exercise and activity a positive experience for everyone involved. Using it as a form of punishment, or kicking your kids outside when it’s cold to ‘get active,’ may create a negative association with exercise that will last into adulthood.
Kids go through many growth spurts, especially as they approach their teenage years. We have to be conscious of their ever-changing needs and continually find ways to motivate and inspire them to be healthy and active. A diet and lifestyle overhaul for a child should be gradual over a prolonged period of time so they can achieve success.
Samantha Clayton is responsible for all activities relating to exercise and fitness education for Independent Herbalife Members and employees. Through in-person training sessions, educational tools and materials, and her blog (www.discovergoodfitness.com), she ensures that the important role of exercise as part of a healthy, active life is understood by all. She also helps create, organize and promote employee fitness programs and activities as an integral part of the company’s corporate wellness program.
A native of Liverpool, England, Samantha initially worked as a consultant for Herbalife for two years and led the Herbalife24-Fit program, the company’s first comprehensive fitness training program and DVD series.
Before joining the corporate ranks, Samantha was a professional athlete. She represented Great Britain in the 2000 Sydney Olympics in both the 200m and the 4x100m relay events. Prior to the Olympics, she won two medals in the Olympic AAA trials – a silver medal for the 200m and a bronze for the 100m – as well as a silver medal in the 4x100m relay during the European Junior Championships in 1997. Her personal records include 11.40 seconds in the 100m and 23.02 seconds in the 200m.
Samantha is a personal trainer and group exercise coach through the American Fitness and Aerobics Association (AFAA) and International Sport Science Association (ISSA).