Many kids nowadays are chin-to-chest oogling their phones and pretty much sedantary (apart from their fingers!) so Ageproof Living asked personal trainer and youth conditioning specialist, Nathan Jordine, for his 6 tricks to get kids to put down their mobiles and get more active ...
Getting our kids more active, along with better education in health nutrition, are keys to breaking the ever increasing obesity epidemic that's affecting today’s youth.
With the influence of the “perfect image” paraded on TV by our OTT celebrity culture and digitalised enhanced images in magazines, it's no wonder teens today are more insecure than ever – and the scary thing is, it's beginning to affect much younger children too.
I believe it's important we cultivate active and healthy habits as early as possible – and this doesn't mean getting them to gyms and fitness classes, but encouraging them away from the TV, their faces out of their precious phones, tablets and computers, and teaching them to properly communicate, eat nutritious food and get more active.
Here are 6 tips I recommend to help you get your kids off the couch.
Fitness for kids isn’t about asking them to do loads of squats and sit-ups. Simply have fun, and as long as they’re moving you're on the right track.
Playing games like tag and hide 'n seek improve their cardio fitness and allowing them to play with dolls and action figures enhance their creativeness and imagination (and their faces are not glued to a screen!)
Encourage any enthusiasm they show in sports or movement activities. This way they are doing something they enjoy and are more likely to continue as they grow older.
Kids don't have to join a club, but by playing with friends, siblings in the garden or at school, they learn team spirit and camaraderie and if they want to take it further at a local club, let them.
Remember though, there is a difference between encouraging and forcing. For young kids, I highly recommend gymnastics as it's one big play zone where they interact with others, increase body strength, core strength, flexibility and mobility.
I’m not talking about Zumba, street or ballet classes (although these are beneficial of course), but keeping things simple, fun and even silly by turning the music up and dancing around with them.
Encourage them to have fun with the songs they like. Disney films like Frozen have lots of songs they can sing and clap along to.
You can also inspire them to improve and learn new moves with free dance coaching clips on YouTube. Why not ask them to create a routine for a special occasion?
Get your kids outdoors, utilise local play areas, parks and fields. Most kids are fascinated by wildlife, climbing trees, running and rolling around. Show them how to be creative with their surroundings and allow them to getting muddy – although not much fun for you – it's always fun for them.
Parks with play areas and climbing frames and animals are always a big hit, especially when the sun comes out.
Use challenges as a way of getting kids to do extra activities – how fast can they run? Can they do a cartwheel? How many star jumps can they do in 20 seconds?
Kids love this kind of interaction and want to show you what they can do! Ask them to challenge themselves by keeping scores and seeing if they can beat what they did last week or the other day – just like you would do with your own workout.
6. LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Kids are observant and learn the majority of their lifestyle habits from their guardians and their home environment. I truly believe if you want to increase their fitness levels and break the TV and internet culture, then it must begin at home.
While we all have our favourite TV shows we like to watch, I suggest saving them for a dedicated time say after home-work and physical activities, and as most digital boxes record and save programmes, no one misses out nowadays.
If you're trying to increase your kids' activity levels without increasing your own, chances of success will be low and you'll make it feel like a chore or punishment in the eyes of your kids.
You may have to step out of your own comfort zone a little if this is not normal behaviour for your family. It's important to be persistent by using these tips daily over at least a 3 week period to create new habits. This is not only essential for the long term health of your kids, but for you as well.
We all know how difficult it is nowadays to get kids to move, so give these tips a go and most importantly have fun with them.
Rotating strategies are good and utilise what works for you and your kids to get them fitter and more active. I look forward to hearing what other tricks you've discovered to help children become more inspired to move.