Is it potato chips and soda making kids obese? Maybe not! While a healthy diet is important, of course, new research by Dr. Asheley Cockerel Skinner of the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) finds that “it is becoming increasingly obvious that the lack of physical exercise in children is the main culprit in the startling rise of childhood obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and all other types of preventable medical conditions.”
If your kids are involved in lots of sports, you probably have little trouble getting them moving, but with kids who are not enrolled in a regular class or team, that leaves you as the parent lecturing your kids to “Go out and get some exercise.”
If you are sick of nagging and arguing about it, here are some sneaky ways to assure your kids move their bodies without focusing on it being “exercise.”
If you have been reading my blogs for a while, you know that I am big in favor of kids doing chores for all kinds of reasons. Certainly one of those reasons is that it is a great way to get your kids up and moving. It is time to hand over your vacuum cleaner or to get some help changing the sheets. Crank up the tunes and you can all rock your way into a clean playroom floor or a dusted living room.
Even if your kids are too young to work in the local food kitchen, they are not too young to help you help your neighbor, so bring them along as you help an elderly neighbor by pulling out her garbage bins or raking her leaves when you rake yours. You will be showing your kids a wonderful example of kindness and charity. School-aged kids can be trained to tasks like watering the garden or bringing in the mail from the end of the driveway. Often kids will cheerfully work for someone else when they will complain about working for you!
Children love to take pride in creating things for their family, so the next time you are assembling the new book case or laying bricks in the yard, figure out how your kids can be a part of it. Even if you are hiring someone else to do the work, your kid can still be put to work, say, carrying buckets of water to the job site. You can even combine charity and projects. I know one family that hung tangerines in their neighbor’s maple tree for Chinese New Year after she was sad that her tangerine tree had died.
Walking to School
If you tell your children, I want you to get more exercise, so we are going to walk to school, there will probably be a lot of moaning and groaning. If, on the other hand, you announce that you want to give them more freedom by teaching them how to walk to school, they are likely to be running out the door before you finish your sentence. Even if it is too far for them to walk the whole way, can you find a logical starting point for some other reason (like, "If I could drop you off on this corner, I'll be able to get to the freeway easily and get to work on time").
Connecting with You.
I talk to lots of kids who feel like they don’t get enough time with their parents—and certainly not one-on-one time. Try announcing that you want to get out of the house for a weekly (or daily!) date. Whether it is a walk around the block, kicking the soccer ball in the yard, or a special treat trip to the bowling alley, you will get your kid up an moving and at the same time be able to check in on how your kid is doing.