As a parent, you will definitely agree that every child is blessed with unlimited enthusiasm and energy. They seem to have a limitless supply of curiosity coupled with a determination which makes it quite a tough job for a parent to keep them engaged and happy. It is up to you as a parent to channelize that energy into different activities that stimulate your child’s mind and body…
Between all the amazing options available in the digital age to engage your tiny tot, physical exercise sometimes tends to take a backseat. However, there are many benefits to being physically active. Children who play outdoors and get fresh air tend to sleep better, have a better bowel movement and also eat well. Children who are active run a lower risk of obesity and are less prone to health disorders like Type 2 diabetes as well as heart diseases.
At the end of the day, physical activity will also build in your child a deep sense of wisdom and respect for their body that will hold them in a good state through their teen and adult years. Children who make time for exercise in their day- to- day life, are known to have lesser stress levels and also prone to perform better even academically. So what are you waiting for?
Here are 9 ideas to make your little one more active and be prepared to get some exercise yourself too!
1. Engage your child in a sport
If your baby is small, plan a game that makes them move. A sport is a wonderful way to get exercise and is also fun for your child. Choose something your baby seems interested in and make it a point to take some time off to play every day. Watch your baby look forward to this time of day and enjoy the benefits that come from regular exercise for your baby.
2. Make time for exercise in the routine
All children have some sort of routine in their life. This routine at the very basic level is a schedule for their mealtimes, their sleep and the rest of the time for other activities. So include time for exercise in your child’s routine and make sure it isn’t immediately after a meal. A full stomach leads to sluggishness and you definitely do not want your little one jumping around with a full stomach.
Make ‘being active’ a motto in your parenting style. When you invest in toys, in addition to the toy being fun or educative, look for toys that will encourage your child to move. Instead of a remote control car, enroll your child in a swimming class. Teach your child to sit straight without slouching. Take your baby along with you for a walk in the park and leave the video game or iPad at home. If there are plenty of other children around, look for games they all can play while getting the much-needed exercise their little bodies need.
While you can’t do away with screens altogether, set expectations that watching screens is something that can be done only for limited time in a day. Try to have a good balance between mental and physical stimulation for your child by making sure physical activity is included into their activities. Introduce your child to songs that come with actions or make them dance to the rhymes they watch on their iPad.
Like everything else, children watch and learn. They may not listen to what you say. But your child is definitely watching what you do. If you are doing yoga, include your baby in your routine by asking them to imitate what you do. You can even make your baby count the seconds while you hold that difficult pose. The bonding it creates is an added bonus. By allowing your baby to watch you exercise, what you are actually doing is sending a clear message that taking care of one’s body is a priority. It is a concept that will be engraved in their minds subconsciously making them avail healthy choices in the years to come as an adult.
6. Exercise as a family
Take time off as a family to do activities that are outdoor and fun. If you go to the beach, play frisbee instead of just building sandcastles. Take a short walk around your locality after dinner together. Choosing movement over standing still will go a long way in determining your child’s health in the future.
7. Adopt a Pet for your child
If your finances, space constraints and other considerations permit it, adopt a pet for your child. Research shows that people who own dogs are more prone to be physically active than those who don’t. The joy and rush of energy that a pet creates will do your baby a world of good in addition to the physical activity that it promises to bring into your baby’s world.
8. Beat the weather
Many children are forced to stay indoors when the weather doesn’t permit outdoor fun. But who said the indoors has to be sedentary? Put on the music. Set up a dance floor by moving the furniture around and go crazy. It will be a wonderful stress buster for you not to mention your child who will see the fun ‘you’ with stars in his or her eyes.
9. Factor in the fun
Let’s be realistic. Children do not understand words like ‘exercise’, ‘workout’, ‘fitness’ or ‘heart-rate’. All they understand is the word ‘fun’. So whatever you want to get them to do, the motto is to make it ‘fun’. A game of ‘Lock and key’ is much more fun than running laps between two walls. So put on your thinking hat and think up ideas to get your children up and moving. It isn’t as hard as it seems at first. Habits form and before you know it, you will see the many benefits to being active evident in your baby.
So pick up your running shoes and make healthy choices for engaging your little one’s body! You will see how much that will end up helping their minds as well, in the long run!