In 2003 to 2004, 17.1 percent of American children and adolescents were overweight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, warned in the “Journal of the American Medical Association” in April 2006 that the rate of obese and overweight children will continue to climb. Encouraging your child to give up the television and computer in favor of physical activity can help him manage his weight. To create a positive association with exercise and help your kids get their recommended 60 minutes of activity a day, make exercise fun for kids.
Yoga can help kids connect to their bodies and tap into their imagination. Yoga enhances flexibility, improves strength, develops coordination and fosters body awareness explains Marsha Wenig, creater of the YogaKids video and educational curriculum on Yoga Journal. To make yoga fun, have kids act out animal poses like cat and cow, eagle and lion. Make a yoga practice a story, talking about the trees as they perform tree pose, a snake as they do locust or cobra, and the weather as you have them act like reeds swaying in the wind. Encourage them to move off their mat and make sounds.
Set up an indoor or outdoor obstacle course. Indoors, line up a jump rope, a hula hoop, a pillow, a ball and several cans or bottles. Have your child jump rope for 10 counts, swing the hoop for 30 seconds, jump over the pillow 10 times, dribble the ball for 30 seconds and weave through the cans. Ask them to repeat it five to 10 times, then invite them to create their own course.
Outside, you can enhance their play at a park by challenging them to run around the jungle gym, swing five times, scale a climbing wall or slide ladder and then run back to you. Set up an obstacle course using cones or bases for use on roller skates or a bike. You can even have your child incorporate “adult” exercises such as pushups and jumping jacks--these are extra fun if you do them too.
Children often want to spend time with their parents and do “grown-up” things. Instead of making your child exercise or play alone, join them. Invite your child on a run or bike ride. Put on some of your favorite music and dance with your child. Play catch or shoot hoops--even if it means you both end up chasing the ball often. Find out the age restrictions for your gym. Many allow children 12 and over to use specific equipment or participate in group exercise classes.