Making Kids Physical Activities Fun Again
As I remember it I was a lot more physically active when I was a kid than the youngsters of today are. In summer we rode our bikes like there was no tomorrow and in the winter we used to pretend that our snow racer sleds where actually motorized snowmobiles – using our legs to propel us through waist deep snow.
When we weren’t doing that we where playing soccer, hockey, badminton or tree climbing like funny looking little monkeys.
If memory serves…
Sure, there where computer games back then as well, on the venerable Commodore 64, but nonetheless I think it is fair to say that me and my friends got ourselves quite a daily workout simply from “being kids”.
I have felt for some time now that today seems to be a somewhat different story, and I was beginning to wonder if it is I who am turning into some old fart talking about the “good old days”, or if kids these days indeed are getting lazier, weaker and fatter.
According to the American Heart Association it seems that the latter is, at least to some degree, closer to the truth. According to their fact sheet on children’s need for physical activity:
Children in the United States today are less fit than they were a generation ago. Many are showing early signs of cardiovascular risk factors such as physical inactivity, excess weight, higher blood cholesterol and cigarette smoking.
Inactive children, when compared with active children, weigh more, have higher blood pressure and lower levels of heart-protective high-density lipoproteins (HDL cholesterol).
Even though heart attack and stroke are rare in children, evidence shows that the process leading to those conditions begins in childhood
So I think it is about time that we, and by that I mean us parents, start to do something in order to ensure the future good health of our currently couch potato kids. And I think it is naive to think that the situation could somehow be remedied by having more gym classes scheduled at school.
Making exercise natural and fun
However, in my opinion you do not necessarily need to enroll your kid in a football team or in a ballet class – unless they really want to do that themselves of course. Because after all, not every child is destined to become a professional football player or “Americas next favorite dancer”, and more or less competitive sports aren’t the only way to get more physical exercise anyway.
What you can do will of course depend on the resources available to you, but in my opinion you should try to find something that not only your kid(s) will enjoy, but something that you don’t mind participating in yourself, every now and then.
Whether that is buying a couple of baseball glows to use in the backyard or if you simply have some suitable nearby trees to start climbing in doesn’t really matter – as long as you do something that will tempt your children to turn off that video game for a few hours to go out and play the old fashioned way.