Physical activity: How to keep a child physically fit?

Best way to engage child in physical activity that makes strong and physically active

Being physically fit has so many health benefits therefore it is essential to help children grow and develop into healthy and physically strong and active adults by engaging them in physical activity. Children needs to be more physically active right from childhood for their healthy growth and development.

Despite we adults knows the benefits of being physically active, most parents/guardian busy schedules makes it difficult to create time for engaging our children in physical activities that will make them stay strong and active always. Even, this days, children also face similar challenges as a result from school, homework, extracurricular activities and other engagements which include playing computer games, televisions and watching videos.

It can be difficult to make kids of this days to put down or off their gaming devices because of the fun they derive interacting with it; I’m not passing bulk though emphasizing on the tides of digital trending world we are living in today. However, we parents/guardian can help them learn healthy habits and keep making them physically active if we create time and incorporate in our daily routing a time for physical activity and exercise.

What is physical activity

Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. Physical activity is not synonymous to “Exercise” but it includes exercise as well as other bodily movement such as playing, working, dancing, house chores, active transportation, and recreational activities.

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Before discussing how best to keep a child physically fit, let us understand the importance for a child to be physically active. Here are some of the benefits that physical activities offers your child:

Importance of physical activity

  1. It strengthens the heart and lungs:

The heart is a muscle and it improves when it is exercised regularly. The heart responds to exercise by getting stronger and more efficient. When the heart muscles are stronger, it helps ward off heart diseases. Physical activity strengthens the heart muscles, pumps more blood, and also enhances blood circulation.

It also increases the capacity of the lungs and their efficiency in moving air in and out of the body. As a result, there will be more oxygen drawn into the body and more carbon dioxide and other waste products are decomposed. Regular physical activity helps avert the decline in oxygen inhalation that happens naturally as a result of inactivity or age.

  1. It controls weight:

When a child is physically inactive, he tends to be taking in more calories than needed. These calories that are not used accumulate as fat. A physically active child will maintain a healthy weight because most of the fats get burnt into calories required for those activities.

  1. It strengthens the bones and muscles:

Physical activity makes the bones and muscles grow stronger. As a child grows, strengthening bone and muscles helps in enhancing the bone density which is essential for strong growth.

  1. It reduces blood sugar levels:

Physical activity prevents sugar from accumulating in the blood by causing muscles to take up more glucose from the bloodstream and make use of it for energy. This can reduce a child’s risk of developing diabetes.

  1. Distressing and relaxing body system:

Children get stressed as a result from school, homework, and extracurricular activities. However, engaging in physical activities can help in distressing a child and also promote relaxation. It helps a child get better quality sleep which is vital for overall development in childhood.

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How to keep a child physically fit?

Parents and caregivers play a key role in helping a child become physically active. If you want a child to live an active and healthy lifestyle and don’t know how to achieve it, the following enumerated tips on how to keep a child physically active are for you.

  • Start early

It is never too late to introduce physical activity into your child’s life neither is it too early to start. As a parent or caregiver, you can start by selecting a preschool or daycare within walking distance of your home and leave your car at home everyday and walk to school with your child.

Your child will benefit from walking by exercising his or her legs every day. You can also choose a daycare or preschool that spends more time outside, playground, or park.

There are ways you can indulge your child to engage in physical activity such as taking your child to a playground and encouraging him or her to swing, climb and play. You can also arrange to meet up with friends at the playground so it can be fun and active for everyone.

  • Be a role model

The best way you can encourage your child is by engaging in physical activities as well. Your child watches and imitates your habits whether good or bad. For your child to keep a physically active lifestyle, they need to see you live an active life as well.

According to research, children who see their parent being more physically active are more physically active themselves. Teach your child about the importance and benefits of being physically active and let them see you are committed by maintaining workout routine.

You can involve your children in your exercise routine and engage in a run or walk as a family. Modeling an active life is a good way to make your child physically active.  

  • Involve the whole family

Family influence plays a vital role in a child’s involvement in physical activities. Inviting everyone to participate in physical activities is a good way to keep a child physically active. It is one of the successful ways to change a child’s exercise habits.

You can engage in physical activity as a family every night after dinner. It can be in form of riding bikes, taking a walk, jogging, or playing catch. It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you are moving together as a family.

If this does not work with your schedule, then you can find another time of day to engage in physical activities. You can try starting with 15 minutes every day. When your child sees that being physically active is a family thing, then he or she will be very eager to engage in it.

  • Create a reward system

A reward program is a way to keep track of how often your child does something you are happy with. Reward systems can be one of the best ways to encourage a child’s behavior or to motivate a child into doing something.

Ensure to make physical activity part of your daily routine. Make a sticker chart or mark a time on your calendar every day for physical activity. When your child hits their hour of activity, let them add a sticker to the chart or you can let them checkmate the calendar.

Every time they complete a whole week, you can reward them by allowing them to choose a fun activity to engage in over the weekend like; playing soccer game with the family in the backyard, or going to a local park to play and have fun.  

  • Limit screen time

Screen time is the amount of time spent in front of a screen such as watching TV, playing video games, or working on a computer. Screen time is also a sedentary activity because you are physically inactive while sitting down. The time spent with screen can be a chance to promote learning and reinforce creative play.

However, too much screen time can have negative effects on children. Too much screen time can make it difficult for a child to sleep at night, increase a child’s risk for gaining too much weight because watching and sitting in front of a screen is a time that is spent being physically inactive and children tend to consume more food when they are watching TV.

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Controlling a child’s screen time can be challenging with screens virtually everywhere. For you to balance screen time with fun time for your child, remove TVs or computers from your child’s bedroom and it is essential to explain to your child that decreased screen time is not a punishment.

You can also make screen time an active time by challenging the family to see who can do the most jumping jacks, leg lifts or pushups whenever there is a commercial break. As a parent, caregiver or babysitter, it is important that you don’t use the TV or a device when you are with kids.

  • Encourage sports participation

Sport participation is one of the many ways to keep your child physically active. Sport participation is defined as a purposeful active participation in sports related physical activities performed during leisure time. Participating in sports has positive effects in several areas such as developing healthy living habits, promoting physical health and improving social skills.

Encourage your child to participate in sport activities like soccer, baseball, basketball or even the track team. You can sign your child up for sport groups at any slight opportunity you get so they can be physically active. Ensure to make it look like fun and make them focus on the physical activity and not the competition because most kids are not ready to compete until they are older.

A good way to encourage your child to participate in sports often is by creating time to attend his or her games or volunteer to help out with your child’s club or team. You can also encourage your child by joining an adult sports team and make your child come and cheer you at the games. All these will eventually encourage your child to participate in sports more and he or she will enjoy physical activities.

  • Get toys that promote physical activities

Children need to have variety of toys to play with. Ensure to provide your child with toys that promote physical activities. You can get them toys like bikes, scooters, roller skates, jump ropes, skateboards, balls, and sports equipment.

Access to active toys have several benefits for children such as developing fine motor skills and confidence. It also helps to improve concentration and focus for your child. Getting toys that encourages physical activities for your child is vital and it is one of the ways to keep your child physically active.

  • Adopt or get a dog

Bringing a dog home is a good way to keep your child physically active and it will also satisfy your child’s desire for a pet. Playing or walking a dog encourages your child to get more exercise and be physically active.

Research has shown that owning a dog is a good way to increase activity levels in children and also, children who played or walked with their dogs spent about an hour every week engaging in these activities which means they are more to be physically active than children who do not play or walk with dogs. You can adopt an active breed like Siberian Husky or German Shepherd and your child will be physically active.

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Why your child need physical activity?

  • Regular physical activity will help your child improve cardiorespiratory fitness.
  • Improves a child’s cognitive development, concentration, and imaginative power.
  • Promotes his/her strong muscles and bones.
  • Reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and risk of developing health conditions such as heart disease.
  • Enhance body flexibility which lessens the risk of injury, reduces muscle stiffness, and promotes a better posture in a child.

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Physical activities help children develop motor skills, provide an outlet for their energy and feel less stressed. It is important to note that not all children are great at physical activities, some tend to be better than it than others and some children are genetically inclined to be overweight.

This article discussed the various ways on how to keep a child physically fit. It is our role as a parent/guardian and caregivers to ensure that our children learn healthy lifestyles. Like and share for others to benefit. Thanks for reading.

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