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Active Voice | Keeping children active

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Obesity is reaching epidemic proportions in the Western world, particularly among children. It's therefore timely to look at some practical ways parents can help their kids be more active.

All parents want their children to be healthy and happy, yet obesity means children are not as healthy as they could be. There's a lot of factors involved in childhood obesity rates such as nutrition, social trends, psychology, medical factors and physical activity. Below are some tips to help parents increase the level of physical activity in their kids in a fun and supportive way.

Rainbow-Girls-Cricket-3

Consider your child’s day and week – where are there opportunities to increase their activity?

  • Your child could walk to and from school (a walking school bus option, or with an adult or group)
  • What’s happening at school? Talk to teachers/sport co-coordinators and look for ways to foster more participation in sport or activities at school.
  • What are they doing after school? Are there some activities that can be incorporated after school – a trampoline, swimming, sports, games with neighbors and friends.

Ask your kids what activities they enjoy?

  • There is always something – dance, swimming, tennis, group games. Don’t accept ‘nothing’ as an answer, keep probing until you find something they enjoy doing.

Draw up a chart of activities

  • Set some healthy, meaningful rewards initially, until they become more internally motivated

It is best to talk with a medical professional or child physical activity specialist (some schools may have a teacher specialising in this field) about precautions for exercise in overweight children. Issues such as postural abnormalities, hydration, hygiene issues, physical adoptions and matching the activity with the child's capability are important factors that need to be considered. However, don’t be overwhelmed by this! There is no challenge that can’t be managed and planned for.

You can also do some other things yourself to support your children – such as:

  • Learn to enjoy fitness yourself! If children see their parents getting involved, it builds awareness that activity is a fun thing to do.
  • Find an activity that you can enjoy with your child. Something as simple as kicking a ball around a park, or a walk along a beach, or supporting them in the sport they enjoy.
  • Learn about nutrition. Read about the food groups and which nutrients are used in the body, and then talk about this with the kids.
  • Take control of the TV. TV is one of the biggest encourages of inactivity, so turn it off when it’s not being watched, rather than it blaring in the background, and limit the hours spend in front of the telly.

(Adapted from ‘monkey see, monkey do’, Greig 2003, ‘Kids Life’, NZ)

Finally, good luck to all those who are starting new programmes or lifestyle choices. Although change is tough, it’s always exciting, necessary and a way to build new opportunities for you and your children.

Feel free to check out the following events and resources:

Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon, Mount Maunganui, November 25, 2018

The Whānau Passport Challenge by Sport Bay of Plenty's Play in the Bay initiative

5210 health resources

For other ideas and information on what is available in the Bay of Plenty you can visit the ‘Get Involved’ section on the Sport Bay of Plenty website. Start your journey to a more active lifestyle and better health outcomes now!

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