Combining regular physical activity with a healthy diet is the key to a healthy lifestyle. By understanding the importance of being physically active, parents can instil fun and healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
Here are some tips for raising a fit child:
- Help your child participate in a variety of activities that are right for his or her age
- Establish a regular schedule for physical activity
- Incorporate activity into daily routines, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Embrace a healthier lifestyle yourself, so you’ll be a positive role model for your family
- Keep it fun, so you can count on your child to come back for more.
Being fit is a way of saying a person eats well, gets a lot of physical activity (exercise), and has a healthy weight. If your child is fit, his / her body works well, feels good, and can do all the things he / she wants to do, like run around with friends. Some steps only parents can take – such as serving healthy meals or deciding to take the family on a nature hike. Parents should stock the house with healthy foods and plan physical activities for the family. But children can take charge too, when it comes to health. Here are five rules to encourage your child to live by. The trick is to encourage your child to follow these rules most of the time, knowing that some days (special occasions like his / her birthday) might call for cake and ice cream.
1. Eat a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables.
We all have a favourite food, but the best choice is to eat a variety. If you eat different foods, you’re more likely to get the nutrients your body needs. Encourage your child to taste new foods and old ones he / she have not tried for a while. Some foods, such as green veggies, are more pleasing the older you get. Shoot for five servings of fruits and vegetables a day – two fruits and three vegetables.
2. Drink water and milk most often.
When one is really thirsty, cold water is the no. 1 thirst-quencher. Children need calcium to grow strong bones, and milk is a great source of this mineral. Your child probably will want something other than milk or water once in a while, so it’s OK to have 100% juice too. But try to limit sugary drinks, like sodas, juice cocktails, and fruit punches. They contain a lot of added sugar. Sugar just adds calories, not important nutrients.
3. Listen to your body.
What does it feel like to be full? When eating, encourage your child to notice how his / her body feels and when their stomach feels comfortably full. Sometimes, people eat too much because they don’t notice when they need to stop eating. Eating too much can make one feel uncomfortable, and over a period of time, it can lead to unhealthy weight gain.
4. Limit screen time.
What’s screen time? It’s the amount of time your child spends watching TV, DVDs, and videos, playing handheld computer games, and using the computer. The more time spent on these sitting-down activities, the less time available for active stuff, like basketball, cycling and swimming. Try to ensure that your child spends no more than 2 hours a day on screen time, not counting computer use related to schoolwork.
5. Be active.
One job a child has – and it’s a fun one – is that they get to figure out which activities they like best. Not everyone loves baseball or soccer. Maybe your child’s passion is cycling, or karate, or cricket, or dancing. Help your child do his / her favourite activities regularly. Find ways to encourage them to be active every day.Encourage positive habits & limit negative ones.
To increase your child’s activity levels, you must first disengage him / her from activities that promote idleness and then re-engage them with safe, fun, active alternatives. Like any lifestyle change, this takes determination and dedication. The following are some tips that will help you make the shift.
Limit television / computer / video games. Most children spend at least four to six hours per day on these sedentary activities. This should be reduced to no more than one to two hours per day. You will likely face resistance to this change. To make the transition easier, make televisions, computers, and video games less of a focal point. For example, try removing them from bedrooms, limiting the household to one television, and designating one family media area .If you don’t trust yourself to enforce the rules you’ve made, eliminate the problem. Video games, computer games, and even televisions are not necessities in a child’s life.
Influence your child’s behaviour through example. Children imitate adult behaviour. Children with active parents are usually active themselves. Children whose parents watch excessive amounts of television are likely to do the same.
Play with your children. Play tag or hide and seek, kick a soccer ball, or take a walk around the neighbourhood. Playing together is not only an opportunity to exercise, it is also bonding time.
Make it fun. Find out what physical activities your child finds enjoyable and make those activities a priority.
Offer positive reinforcement. Increase your child’s self-confidence and satisfaction with exercise by encouraging him and offering personal compliments. Telling children they are doing a good job is one of the best ways to keep them doing a good job. Be careful not to use sedentary activities such as computer time as a reward.
Accept and love your child at any weight. Children come in all shapes and sizes. Resist pressures to change or control your child’s weight. Teach him / her that physical activity will keep him / her healthy and strong at any size. If you accept your child as he / she is, they will be more likely to accept and feel good about themselves.
Parents should educate their children regarding the following when participating in physical activity including cycling:
1. Wear protective gear
Protective gear is anything one wears that helps keeps one from getting hurt. The gear one wears depends on the sport one plays. Helmets are the most common protective gear. They protect one’s all-important head. Make sure your child wears the right helmet for their sport. The helmet should fit snugly but comfortably, and if it has a strap – like a bike helmet does – this needs to be fastened. Otherwise, it will fall off when needed most.
Other sports require eye protection, mouth guards, pads, wrist, and elbow and knee guards. And don’t forget the feet. Cleats are worn in football, baseball, softball and soccer. These shoes have special rubber or plastic points on the soles to help the feet grip the ground when running around.
2. Warm up
It is not a good idea to just have your child jump on their bicycle and ride off down the road. So encourage your child to take a light jog for example, to get loosened up and ready to cycle. Doing some stretching can also prepare your child to hit the road. By warming up, one gets oneself ready to cycle (or for any other physical activity). Warming up one’s muscles helps keep one safe. Warm-ups that last 15 to 30 minutes and include slow, gradual stretching help lengthen one’s muscles and increase blood flow and muscle temperature. That way, one’s muscles are ready to go and are much less likely to get hurt.
3. Know the rules
Traffic lights at intersections help prevent crashes between the many cars and trucks that drive on the roads together. This works because drivers know the rules and follow them – at least most of the time. It’s the same way with cycling (or any other physical activity). Cyclists, including children, need to know and understand the rules of the road – what is legal and what is not – fewer injuries happen then.
4. Watch out for others
Teach your child that some rules are just about protecting other people and being courteous. It is also good to just be courteous, like telling someone his or her shoe is untied. Encourage your child to always check his / her own shoes, too!
5. Don’t play when you are injured
This is a really important one. Teach your child that cycling or doing any physical activity when you are hurt – or before an injury has had a chance to fully heal – is a bad idea. It can lead to an even worse injury, one that might sideline your child for a long time.