We all know about the many benefits of physical activity and the negative consequences of inactivity. For example, physical inactivity leads to increased risk for diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, some cancers (breast, colon), and mental health issues. On the other hand, physical activity is related to an increased capacity for learning and concentration, as well as other physical and mental health benefits. Thus, as parents we want to implement physical activity into everyday life and encourage a healthy lifestyle among our children.
Physical activity is essential for healthy development and adopting physical activity habits early in life will increase the likelihood of children remaining physically active as adults. Participating in family physical activities helps children gain life skills as well as health benefits. For example, family physical activity can assist your child in learning teamwork, leadership skills, and quality decision-making.
Importance of Role Modeling
Parents and caregivers play an important role in shaping children’s ideas and development. Caregivers lead by example. Parents and guardians who display positive and healthy lifestyle choices influence the decisions and behaviors of their children. For example, children notice when you open a bag of carrots rather than a bag of potato chips for snack time. The following points are based on research in sport psychology and child development.
Finding Time for Family Activity
How can you find family time for physical activity when you have a busy schedule? Here are some suggestions.
Family physical activity need not be expensive. Here are some inexpensive options.
Use community resources such as schools, YMCAs, churches, and parks and recreation services to find local events for engaging in physical activity (e.g., fun walk for charity). Second hand stores, garage sales, and used sporting good stores provide options for purchasing inexpensive equipment.
In today’s society, it is easy to overlook both family time and physical activity. Try some of these ideas, or better yet – make up your own – and get double the benefits of improved health and family togetherness.