Many movies set during the late 50’s to the 70’s show how kids during that time exploring their youth, with sports and outdoor activities playing important roles. The movie “Sandlot” was set in the 1960’s and entertained the viewers how baseball played a role in the friendship of a group of young boys. Aside from playing a lot of baseball, they were shown going out swimming, going to the carnival, and trying to come out with ways to outwit a dog. The movie “Stand By Me” may have been a coming of age drama, but the adventure done by the youngsters in the movie showed plenty of outdoor exploration. They went to leech-infested swamps, walked across a train bridge, and embraced the woods.
Although we do not wish for our own children to go on an expedition to search for a dead kid’s body like in Stand By Me, it does feel encouraging to see our kids have real good fun outdoors. We may not allow them to go out on a swimming trip just by themselves like in Sandlot, as it seems to be safer ages ago, it does give parents a different positive feeling to see their kids with their friends busying themselves outside, without mobile phones, computers or handheld video games.
Many medical and social reports reveal the increasing percentage of obese children today. Gone are the days when children are out running and playing fun games. The 80’s movies still show kids biking in groups, hiking together, climbing trees and exploring the outdoors. These days, youngsters are mostly cooped up inside their rooms, their eyes glued on computers and the TV monitors playing, what else, video games.
Because family members are very busy with work, school and tons of activities, physical fitness usually take a back seat. But we cannot deny the fact that exercise has been proven to be a vital part of good health. Therefore, it is a must to provide time for it. Parents may be very busy themselves, but if it does not start with them, then the kids would just be lost. And because somehow, it has become a challenge for parents to encourage their kids to exercise, here are a few tips on how to go about it:
1. Practice what you preach. Do not contradict yourself by encouraging the kids to exercise without you doing some form of physical activity. Children would be inspired to do things when they see members of the family doing things that would be good for their health. Some dads may be into basketball or tennis or football. Bring your kids when you hit some hoops. Carry a baseball glove, go to the park with a wide space, and practice ball catching and throwing. Aside from the child learning the basics of the game, it is not only a good form of exercise; it becomes a very good bonding moment for parent and child. If kids start to be very interested and want to be taught further in certain sports, enroll them in clinics or programs. Some may not be year-round because of the weather, but your kids can still enjoy and learn them. They become exposed to the sports and earn new friends as well. Although parents should know their boundaries, it is very good for them to be involved in the physical activities of their kids. Play with them, be encouraging and supportive. When kids feel too tired or show lost of interest, be there to let them talk about their concerns. Perhaps it is time to try other things. The important thing is for you to be there to show them that you yourself are very mobile and you try to involve them in these fitness activities.
2. Introduce variety. Children may easily get tired of activities done over and over. When they are introduced to different activities, then boredom would not be a concern. Moms who love walking can bring their children along. A very nice park with a lot of other people jogging and walking is very conducive to this. The child sees that other people are also doing this activity and would realize that it could really be beneficial and fun. On other days, bring a ball when you go to the park. You can hit a soccer ball or throw a Frisbee. If you prefer to stay indoors, especially if the weather does not allow an outdoor activity, turn on the TV and play an exercise DVD. Your cable can also offer a fitness channel where you can choose different exercises. Whether on DVD or on your on-demand channels, you can do taebo, kickboxing, hip-hop dancing, indoor walking and all sorts of work outs in the comfort of your own home. You can also purchase a dance mat like the famous dance revolution game. Some types simply need to be attached to the television set, and you can have fun while dancing. It does look like a game because you earn a score, and at the same time, it’s an interesting form of exercise for children. Of course, you can enroll them to programs like swimming, basketball, taekwondo, or ballet. During weekends, have fun biking. The next weekend, pack the family enough water and light snack and go hiking. There are great hiking areas that would allow you to enjoy nature, while you do a good workout.
3. Expose them to effects of bad habits. Books, magazines and newspapers are a great source of illnesses that are caused by bad habits like smoking, too much drinking, taking drugs as well as living a sedentary life. The internet has a lot of information about this as well. Let the children know about this and explain to them the scientific basis of these issues. Many famous people speak about their past lives and give testimonies on how taking care of their health by proper diet and exercise has dramatically changed their lives and total wellness. Allow the children to watch shows that feature this, or read to them reading materials about this. Provide information about obesity and the diseases that come with it. Some science exhibits feature displays about the effects of smoking and unhealthy lifestyles. Bring the children to these things and explain to them clearly the meaning and relevance of what they see. It is good for them to know the fruits of very positive and healthy living, and they also need to see the effects of a living a life full of bad habits and neglect for health and well being.