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Smart ways to get your child excited about being active

Here’s how you can encourage your child to participate in physical activities that are age-appropriate, enjoyable, and offer variety!

Are you looking for fun ways to get your child to be more physically active? We all know how important exercise is. Regular physical activity can help children and adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions.

However, it can be difficult to persuade children who would rather be in front of their electronic devices to engage in physical activity. Children today live in a world that is vastly different from the one in which we grew up.

If your youngster has a smartphone or iPad stashed away in their back pocket, the phrase “go outside and play” has likely lost its meaning.

We chat with Keri Byron, a school sports coordinator, on tips on how to encourage your child to be physically active.

Make them a part of the decision-making process

Children (even most adults) don’t like to be told what to do. So why would they want to be forced into a game or activity without any buy-in? Sport should not be equated to teeth brushing or dish washing. It is supposed to be fun, engaging, rewarding. Ask your child what games they like to play with their friends and find similarities in existing sports.

Does your child run a lot with friends? Perhaps a sport like soccer or athletics is for them. Do they climb trees or jungle gyms? Maybe gymnastics or dance is the way to go. Do they prefer to play with toys and solve puzzles or problems? Maybe cricket or karate could be right up their alley. Whatever sport they play, if they participate in the decision, they are more likely to persist with it in the long run.

Don’t force your child to do an activity they don’t enjoy

Just because they have chosen a sport, does not mean they must stick with it for life. A child’s mind is bound to (and allowed to) change – and you should be understanding of these changes. Of course, the first sign of struggle should not cause your child to abandon their chosen sport (after all, defeat and heartache build character) but forcing your child to spend years participating in a sport that they hate will only lead to resentment and disappointment.

Be an active part of family fun

We get it: You work hard, your weekends are sacred and that weeknight dinner doesn’t cook itself. Life is hectic but your child needs a role model. If you want them to enjoy sports, then dust off those boots, pick up that bat and play with them! The memories you create in your back garden, on the beach, or in the park will stay with your child forever. They will associate playing sport with the love of family and will likely continue the legacy when they have kids of their own. And who knows, you might even shed a few centimetres from your waistline.

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