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How Do I Encourage My Child To Be More Active?


Whether it's running around the yard playing tag or heading for a walk with the family pet, four to six year olds require physical activity to prevent health issues later in life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physical activity, specifically aerobic activity or cardio, strengthens children's muscles and bones as well as their cardiovascular systems. noted that exercise also helps children maintain their blood sugar levels, lowering their risk of developing diabetes. It also helps them be happier and more energetic. 

The American Academy of Family Physicians's website recommended six year olds be physically active for 60 minutes a day, noting that there are a lot of sports, balance exercises and muscle-strengthening activities little ones can do to help their hearts, lungs and muscles grow. 

However, what if your child doesn't want to get off the couch or isn't interested in sports or physically active games? You can do more than going out and buying a jump-rope or kite. Here are some strategies straight from the experts that may encourage your child to become more physically active:

"Be sure to monitor your child's screen time."

Introduce a no-sitting rule during commercials

Even just three to five minutes of physical activity is better than nothing at all, and if your little one loves to watch television, tell them that they have to jump around during commercials. Let's Move, the initiative started by first lady Michelle Obama to help American children become more active, suggested families create a new house rule that tells little ones they can't sit down when ads come on the TV. However, be sure to also monitor your child's screen time. advised families to limit their little one's time in front of a TV or smartphone screen to one or two hours max. 

Make it family time

The CDC suggested parents and guardians do physical activity together. This can be in the form of a family walk or basketball game - anything that can become a regular routine to your children that gets them up and active. Children often don't want to play by themselves, and exercise becomes much more fun for little ones when they have their favorite adult and family members joining in. Make it normal that your entire family goes for a bike ride or a walk together. Even if your little one isn't actively biking or walking the entire time, it'll make physical activity normal for them. Families can even make physical activity an all-day event. Let's Move recommended parents and guardians have a family swim day or bike day to get children moving. 

Give them space to run and play

We've all heard it: don't run in the house. However, it can be nearly impossible to get children to become physically active if they have no room to throw a ball, dribble or run around. If you don't have a safe space where your child can be physically active, take them to a community basketball court or park, the CDC advised. 

If your child can't stop dancing, consider putting him or her in ballet or dance lessons.

Watch sports together

Children like to look up to adults, and watching or going to a sports game together can be a great way to encourage them to take up physical activity. While the Rio games are now over, school is about to get underway, and families should consider going to a local sporting event. Seeing bigger kids or college students playing a physical game together can inspire your child to want to play as well. Many children love to dance, and if your four to six year old is one of these children, going to a dance recital or ballet may be a great pick. Gymnastics can be another awesome choice for little ones who just can't seem to stop climbing over everything or tumbling off the couch.

Be careful not to pick just any sport - ensure you and your child are excited about the activity before you go. If you don't want to be there - or your little one has no interest in that particular sport - then it won't be an enjoyable experience, making it that much harder to encourage your child to be active.

It may take time - as in, years - for your little one to like being physically active, but it'll be worth it. Allow your child to find the sport or activity they like through trial and error, and the type of physical activity they like at four may be miles away from what he or she likes at six. Yet don't push your child too much., the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics, warned families not to overdo it when it comes to physical activity. If your little one is getting hurt or is losing too much weight while doing a physical activity, recommended families talk to their pediatrician.

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