In the last 30 years, child obesity rates in America have tripled. Now nearly one out of every three children is overweight or obese. These children will face chronic obesity-related health struggles throughout their lives, which may include diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma.
Physical activity helps control weight, reduce the risk of chronic illness, and improve self-confidence and self-esteem.
What does age-appropriate physical activity look like?
- For babies- encourage rolling over, reaching for toys placed slightly out of reach, tickling, and supervised “tummy time” help build muscle strength and balance.
- For toddlers- try climbing stairs, twirling, chasing bubbles, and climbing at the playground.
- For preschoolers- encourage dancing, stretching, bike riding, somersaults, jumping rope, and hitting or kicking a ball.
Children over the age of 2 should participate in at least 60 minutes (1 hour) of physical activity every day. If you and your child can’t do all 60 minutes at once, that’s ok. The goal is to get 60 minutes total from all the different activities you do.
How can you get moving?
- Take children outside to play as much as possible.
- Create safe indoor spaces for jumping, dancing, and tumbling.
- Play music.
- Go walking and try to drive your car less.
- Offer children toys that encourage movement, like balls, tunnels, and things with wheels.
- Try using physical activity during transitions (“Please hop back to the car.” “Can you skip to the dinner table?”)
- Have your child help with simple household tasks, such as sweeping, lifting small objects, and dusting.
- Plan family activities that involve movement, like hiking, biking, walking at the beach, soccer games, swimming or yard work.
- A big part of getting kids outside is reducing screen time. This means setting and enforcing limits on TV, video games, computers, and phones.
Of course, if you’re exercising outside, don’t forget to:
- put on your sunscreen,
- offer plenty of water to drink, and
- supervise your child’s play to avoid injury.