By Mary Pletsch 11 Sep 2020 no comment 89 Views

Last week we talked about how much physical activity growing children need.  What can you do if your kids fall short of the minimums?

How much exercise do children need?

Kids under 12 need at least an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise each day.

Teenagers need the same, plus, they require vigorous exercise at least three times each week.

Some kids may easily meet these minimums.  Others may need some encouragement to exercise each day, or to explore different forms of active entertainment in search of activities they enjoy.

How can I get my kids to be more active?

Watch what they’re doing when they go outside to play.  Plenty of kids combine imaginative play (pretending to be superheroes, cops and robbers, princesses, etc) with running around, climbing, and other active behaviours.  Exercise comes in more forms than organized sports or “working out.”

If your child’s outside activities involve sitting to play most of the time, then they may need some extra inspiration.

First and foremost, kids need to learn that being active is fun.  It might take some trial and error to discover what activities they enjoy.  Focus on discovering new things and learning to have fun, rather than forcing them to stay long-term in an activity they dislike, or placing undue emphasis on winning competitions.

Plan family outings where physical activity is part of the trip.  Take them to the park and encourage them to explore the playground equipment there.   Go to the zoo and walk around to look at the animals.  Head to the beach or the pool and go swimming as a family.   Go hiking in the fall.  We are lucky to have beaches, lakes and parks that are free to use.

Active outings as a family will get you moving, too.  This isn’t just doubling up your exercise and theirs – by being active yourself, you set a good example for your kids.

Some kids might enjoy joining a sports team.  But sports teams aren’t for everyone.  A child who doesn’t enjoy organized sports might prefer classes in active activities such as karate, dancing, swimming, gymnastics, etc.  Some kids may prefer to be active without worrying about “winners” or “losers,” while others might enjoy competition.

Sports aren’t the only way to get active.

Games such as kick the can and tag also get kids moving.  And some kids prefer to run, climb and jump as part of imaginative play.

When your kids ask you to play with them, you can work physical activity into their imaginative games.  If they want to play police, be a “robber” they can chase and catch.  If they want to play princesses and princes, hide “royal treasure” that they have to run around and look for.

Younger kids can help with simple chores like watering the garden or getting the mail.  Teens can handle more advanced tasks like mowing lawns or shoveling snow.  For teens, these tasks can also be money-makers.

Limit screen time.  Video games and TV shows are fine in moderation, but they should not be a child’s primary source of entertainment.  Kids learn about the world by interacting with each other, making up their own games, and stretching their body’s capabilities through physical exercise.

Children’s growing bodies need support to function at their best.  Sports injuries can happen to people of all ages.  Children have spines just as adults do.  If we haven’t seen you or your kids recently, call Sheppard Chiropractic Centre at (506) 635-8182 or (506) 847-7172 to schedule an appointment.

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