By Ashley Gerrard
One of the most popular topics today is getting healthy and making changes to create a healthier lifestyle. This is GREAT! We want that! We need that within our local community and we need it across the country. However, we tend to direct our efforts towards ourselves and we don’t realize the effect we could have by including our youth in this change to a healthier lifestyle.
With busy, hectic schedules, time and effort is limited. Getting your kids to be healthy and to stay active is a tough task, especially when answered by eye rolls, annoyed kids and multiple failed attempts. You know, the whole “Kids will be kids; can’t get them to do anything they don’t want to do.” That’s right. Kids will be kids. But they can still be healthy, active kids Kids have a built in “full energy” tank just waiting to be tapped into and used to become better each day. Our youth also have the ability to move and keep moving for extended periods of time. It starts with their parents, their first teacher and their main provider. Teaching them that activity is fun and important is the first step. Once this has been established, it’s our responsibility to provide our youth with opportunities to be fit and active.
There are a lot of ways to inspire action and to spark an interest in making these changes to be healthier. Encouraging them to play outside and explore is essential to creating good habits. Other ideas include participating in programs such as 5ks, color runs, fun runs, hiking or kayaking trips and just enjoying the great outdoors by walking the family pooch.
Choosing an extracurricular activity can also be done as a family function. Get everyone involved in deciding what to do and participate together. The best way to teach your kids to be healthy and active is to show them that you do it, and you enjoy it.
I asked a few moms to share why they encourage their kids to be healthy and active and this is what they had to say.
Leah shares, “It is extremely important that my three boys be very physically active so they will be healthy, strong, and confident, and gain all the life lessons that come with organized sports such as teamwork, perseverance, and how to win and lose with dignity, discipline, etc. In addition, diabetes and mental health issues run in my family and I feel exercise is the best medicine to keep them from experiencing this.”
“I think it is important for my family to stay active for a long term healthy lifestyle. I want my girls to see that it is important to stay active throughout life, and not just doing sports as kids,” says Heather.
Joy adds, “In the summertime, it is a big deal for us all to go to the monument steps and walk up and down, and walk around the track. They love it and look forward to it each year.”
Lastly, Marcie says, “Being active certainly impacts my boys in a positive way. They feel proud of themselves as well as their contributions to a team through sports or to their family through family activities.”
Physical Education classes and organized sports are a terrific way to get our youth started and build a strong base for being physically fit. Like Leah said, there are a lot of great qualities to be gained from being involved in organized sports teams. However, we often see that healthy activity stop once they move on to college and are no longer a part of a team or required to be physically fit to excel at their sport. Starting at a young age and giving them that opportunity to commit to a healthy lifestyle outside of organized sports will help establish the importance of staying active throughout life.
We often see our youth struggle with confidence. Webster’s Dictionary defines confidence as a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something. Let’s be sure to give kids that chance to succeed, to set a goal and to work toward achieving that goal. Wouldn’t it be great if you could be the one to inspire that action in them? NOW!
Summer vacation is a great time to start. This is what I remember about being out of school for the summer — Numerous hours spent outside swimming, biking, roller blading with friends or at day camp, and then practices and games for organized sports in the evening. Wait, that doesn’t seem right. Watching TV or Netflix, and having your face and thumbs glued to the cell phone screen seems a bit more accurate to describe summer break nowadays. As adults, we have the ability to make outdoor activities more entertaining than an iPhone or TV and redirect our youth to a lifestyle that will encourage them to lead a life with an active and healthy future.
Activity can be done anywhere, but the best place is right near home for a couple of reasons. First, it costs a lot less to stay close to home. Helping out our community is another reason to stay close to home because it can raise awareness or funds to a cause with more significance. I find that a great incentive to our youth is that they will see their friends and get excited about whatever activity you have planned.
Remember, change starts with you and can be anything that moves your family and builds confidence and healthy habits. Get started now and see where it takes you and your family.