You might be familiar with the benefits of living an active lifestyle, however, did you know that it isn’t just adults who need to stay active? According to new HPB guidelines, those between seven and seventeen years old should engage in an average of 60 minutes of moderate-to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each day. And that even those under the age of six years old are recommended to have at least 180 minutes of physical activities spread throughout their day.
But with distractions from electronic games and gadgets, how do we get our children off the couch and into a more active lifestyle? Here are some ideas:
Remember that variety is the spice of life
Rock climbing, cycling, swimming, football, yoga… the list of things your child can do to lead an active lifestyle is never-ending. So why not expose them to a wide diversity of physical activities? The more the merrier! This allows them to associate sports and staying active with socialising and enjoyment. This variety also ensures they have a chance to find out what they’re good at and what they enjoy, which leads us to the next point.
Let them find their passion
Let’s face it, it’s not going to be fun for anyone if you have to drag your child to a sports class they are clearly disinterested in. And if you want your child to keep up with an active lifestyle, it’s important they, themselves, are intrinsically motivated to engage in physical activities. Instead, let them take over the wheel and allow them to learn something that are interested in!
Offer emotional support
Not everyone wants to become an Olympic medal winner! Pressure and performance anxiety can be one reason that children shy away from sports, especially those that involve teamwork. Help your child overcome these fears by providing regular encouragement and focusing more on things they have learned or improved at—rather than results like winning or losing, so they are more likely to see sports as enjoyable, and not a “test” they have to pass.
Make it a treat, not a task
Reward your child with a new pair of skates, outings to kayak at Pulau Ubin, a chance to cycle along the Rail Corridor, or to take part in a family laser tag challenge. This reinforces the idea that physical activities can be fun and enjoyable. You can also use competition as a motivator and see who can climb the stairs the fastest, do the most jumping jacks—and offer a prize.
Do it together
No better way to influence your children to have a healthy, active lifestyle than leading by example! So the next time you’re heading to the store, walk instead of drive. Climb the stairs on the way home instead of taking the elevator, and leave the computer for a walk in the park in the evenings. Little steps woven into your everyday life can have a remarkable effect on how your children grow up and conduct theirs!