Our Summer youth program started this morning. It was great watching the kids play. Then it hit me…they are playing. It made me think about when I was a kid. Whatever happened to kids just playing? Is it really a thing of the past?
Watching children run, play, swing, and see-saw on the playground may give you a few twinges of wistful nostalgia. Exercise did not seem like exercise when you were a kid. At school it was called recess; and it was a time for both your imagination and your muscles to get a pretty intense work-out. You could even have a blast just running around the back yard with your dog.
Those times may feel like eons ago, with all the coolest video games and computer software to keep more and more children inside with their butts glued to a chair. Being active is very important, no matter how old you are. Exercise is not just something that grown-ups complain about; children should be involved in some kind of physical activity every single day (or as often as possible).
How does one make exercise fun for kids? How do parents ensure that their children are getting a proper amount of physical activity to keep them healthy? The best way is to be active right along with them. There are many enjoyable activities that families can do together, that provide exercise and bonding at the same time.
You may not think there is much you can do with your toddler and younger children, but there are plenty of basic skills that you can coach them through right from your home and back yard. Running, rolling around, hopping, skipping, and catching are just to name a few. They will learn how to balance, how to move quicker, and coordination.
A regular football would be too large and hard for your little guy or girl, but something smaller and made out of the popular Nerf material is just the right size for their growing hands. What can Nerf teach your toddler? For one, they will learn how to recognize and react to objects (or hand-eye coordination).
In my humble opinion, It is okay to allow your child’s imagination out for fresh air and to play along. For example, pretending you are all participants in a rodeo will provide more than enough physical exercise. They get to gallop, skip, hop, jump, and run their way to that blue ribbon. You could be astronauts exploring a new planet, or pirates looking for buried treasure.
The activities can and will increase as children age. Games like kick ball and touch football are much more appealing to elementary school age children than Candy Land. This is also a good age to begin introducing bicycles to your kiddos. It will also make for a great bonding experience for the whole family as you all learn, and then ride together.