It is important for children to establish beneficial health habits at an early age, as lasting health habits are usually solidified during childhood. A 2012 article published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics states that encouraging a healthy level of physical activity in children and teens is crucial for improving health and that optimizing musculoskeletal health is essential for achieving lifelong health of an individual.

As a parent, what can you do help encourage and lead your child toward a healthy, active life?

Exercise may reduce the chances of obesity, which is becoming more common in children. It may also reduce the risk of diabetes, a disease that can be associated with a lack of exercise and poor eating habits. Exercise also helps children build social skills and provides them with a general sense of well-being. Sports participation is an important part of learning how to build team skills.

As a parent, it is important for you to encourage your children to be physically active. It’s also important to match your child to the sport, and not push him or her too hard into an activity that he or she may not like or be capable of doing. Teach your children to follow the rules and to play it safe when they get involved in sports, so they’ll spend more time having fun in the game and be less likely to be sidelined with an injury. You should be mindful of the risks associated with different sports and take important measures to reduce the chance of injury.

TIPS FOR PARENTS:

  1. Practice what you preach!  Your child must see that you value the importance of exercise.
  2. Limit TV, video games, and computer time.
  3. Children need at least 60 minutes of exercise every day.
  4. Get your child involved in some (out of school) sports activity/team.
  5. Make it fun.  Encourage them and talk positive.
  6. Give your child options and varieties.  The worst thing you can do for your child is to focus on 1 sport when your child is young.  They will burn out and quit in their teens.  Multi sports develop a well-rounded, physically strong athlete.
  7. Engage in family activities with your child/children. Go to the park and play family soccer or kick ball.  Anything that engages your child and your family is sure to be fun.

Think of it this way … by taking the time to get your kids interested in exercise now, you’re giving them a gift that will keep them healthy and happy for the rest of their lives.