Is your once-active kid now a teenage permanent resident of the sofa?
Many parents are noticing their teenagers exhibiting some stubborn sedentary behaviors. Researchers, however, are noticing that these behaviors actually set in well before their teen years, beginning in childhood.
The physical activity habits of about 400 children in the U.K. were monitored over the course of 8 years using portable monitors. Physical activity levels started to decline at age 7 and continued declining as they approached adolescence. Results, which were published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, were the same for both boys and girls.
These results strongly encourage making a conscientious effort to keep young children active as they grow up.
What are the Recommendations?
Children and adolescents should engage in 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day. This may sound like a lot, but there is no need to worry! Your child may already be meeting these guidelines.
There are many easy, enjoyable ways to help your child meet these guidelines. And, you'll soon discover all the easy and enjoyable ways to help your child meet the recommendations.
The key is to keep the activities age-appropriate, varied, and FUN! The three main types of activity your child should be getting are:
1. Aerobic activity, such as brisk-walking, playing tag, walking the dog, or running at least 3 days per week.
2. Muscle-strengthening activity, such as gymnastics, jungle gyms, sit-ups, or push-ups, at least 3 days per week. Many schools already have these activities in place. While children do not need formal muscle-strengthening activities such as weight-lifting, some adolescents may start a more structured weight program, such as with organized sports teams.
3. Bone-strengthening activity, such as jumping rope or running, at least 3 days per week.
What can Parents Do?
Parents play a huge role in setting a positive example of living an active lifestyle. Children are more likely to do what you do, not necessarily what you say. If it's part of your daily routine, your children are more likely to imitate you.
Activites can be done as a family as well, such as family walks or active group or team games. It helps to provide your children with some basic equipment and gear that encourages physical activity but also safety equipment needed to prevent injury.
When you observe your child expressing interest in a new activity, take advantage and be encouraging about pursuing that interest if it is appropriate and safe for their age.
Take note of nearby places where your child can get active, including parks, playgrounds, fields, and courts.
Chores count, too, such as mowing the lawn or vacuuming a floor or two.
While many families gradually form the habit of watching TV after dinner, why not make it a tradition to take a walk, play a game, or ride bikes after your meal?
Fitting regular physical activity into your child's daily schedule may seem difficult at first. However, you'll soon find that it's easier and funner than you think!
Br J Sports Med Published Online First: 13 March 2017. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-096933