How to Keep Your Children Active

How to Keep Your Child Active

girl with a backpackOne hour a day. That's all it takes for your child to meet the Physical Activity Guidelines established by the Department of Health and Human Services. Unfortunately, a recent government report found that too few U.S. children are reaching that goal.

The report shows that just one in four American children is getting enough daily exercise. Basketball and running are the favorite choices of those children who manage to meet the guidelines, which call for an hour of moderate to vigorous activity every day.

"Sixty minutes of daily exercise at that level can strengthen your child's heart," says Floyd Primary Care pediatrician Rogena Cordle, M.D. " It can build stronger bones and help control weight. A bonus is that it can even boost self-esteem and confidence," said Dr. Cordle.

To help ensure your child gets a daily dose of exercise, try these strategies:

  • Lead by example. A recent study found that children moved more if their parents frequently promoted and joined their kids in physical activity.

  • Think of exercise as fun-filled family time. Plan an after-dinner bike ride or walk. If the weather is iffy, have a dance party in your living room.

  • Break it up. Your child doesn't have to squeeze in 60 minutes of physical activity all at once. Encourage active play throughout the day.

  • Enlist your child's help in household chores. Vacuuming, raking leaves, and walking the dog count as physical activity, too.

  • Choose exercise as a reward. If your child does well in school, for instance, schedule a trip to the park or community basketball court.

  • Encourage your child to try different sports to find one that fits. Children are more apt to stick with an activity they enjoy.