It's Hard to Convince Your Child to Put Down the Phone and Go for a Run. Here's How to Go About It.

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It's Hard to Convince Your Child to Put Down the Phone and Go for a Run. Here's How to Go About It.

Playtime, such as rushing through the park, finding a place to hide, and jumping on the swings, is usually the highlight of a child's day. 

For children, much of this counts as exercise. While some children seem particularly inclined to play and engage in different physical activities, others would instead spend most of their time scrolling through YouTube videos or binge-watching the latest television show.

A study in the journal Obesity suggests that children are getting as little as two hours of activity per week during the pandemic. Dr. Nick Edwards, a sports medicine specialist and a part of the American Academy of Pediatrics, insists that parents should start educating their kids about the benefits of exercise at an early age. 

"Just as we teach children about what foods we should eat to be healthy," he stated, "it is never too early to introduce the concept that we need to move our bodies to stay healthy."

A 2019 study in Pediatrics Journal states that the number of physical activities children as young as six years old engage in per day has declined. 

According to a 2019 survey report from Common Sense Media, kids aged 8 to 12 spend over five hours of screen time per day, while children aged 13 to 18 spend over seven hours hooked to their screens.

Edwards believes that before teaching children the benefits of exercise, parents must lead by example. When parents exercise, they might invite their children to do so as well. Furthermore, children do not require several hours of daily activity. He recommends that they get at least one hour of physical activity each day. 

While parents must promote all forms of movement, Edwards believes that activities that cause children to breathe quicker and sweat are the best. He added that it's also crucial to include exercises that help develop balance and coordination when youngsters become older. Bicycling, jumping rope, and Hula-Hooping are examples of such activities.

There are two types of physical activity: aerobic and non-aerobic.

According to CNN contributor Stephanie Mansour, host of PBS' "Step It Up with Steph," physical activity may be divided into aerobic exercise and strength training.

According to her, aerobic activities raise their heart rate, which aids cardiovascular health, while strength training aids muscular growth. "This doesn't mean you should take your kids for a run or have them exercise weights," Mansour clarified. Frisbee, monkey bars, and trampoline jumping are all great exercises to introduce to your children. 

Developing Your Skills Outside of Team Sports

Mansour advised youngsters who don't participate in team sports to try other activities with an adult, such as swimming or hiking. Parents can also choose exercise options for their children to try out and select from, she said.

"Letting your child discover what sports or physical activities they enjoy early on will keep them motivated in the long run and ensure that they remain fit and healthy over the school year," Mansour said.

When Edwards was a kid, he remembers being introduced to sports like tennis and cross-country skiing. He found those sports "silly" at the time. However, as he grew older, he realized they were a fun method to work out. He advised parents to keep encouraging their children to try new things, even if they are first uninterested.

"Even if kids don't realize it at the moment," Edwards said, "it may assist them years later when they're seeking adult activities." When kids aren't encouraged to exercise, it's a recipe for disaster.

What to Do When Kids Are Not Motivated to Exercise? 

Setting a daily time limit for how long children can watch television is one method to encourage them to exercise. Additionally, you should send your children outside to play, even if it's only for 30 minutes, ideally before dinner. Having this outdoor playtime before dinner offers youngsters something to anticipate in their daily routine.

Adults can sneak in exercise throughout the day by doing things like taking the stairs with their children instead of taking the elevator or going to certain locations, according to Edwards.

The ideal exercise that is more likely to be successful is the exercise that you can add into your children's routine rather than something "extra." 

According to Mansour, when it comes to physical activity, older children and teenagers are frequently looking to improve themselves. To keep their children motivated, parents should urge them to make exercising a competition with themselves.

According to Mansour, parents should also teach their children that exercise has long-term health and fitness benefits to help them establish good habits in the future. 

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