Getting Children Active: Healthy Movement at New Farm Physio

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How To Get Your Children to Be Active


Children should be active at least 60 minutes per day, and should not be inactive for long periods of time. Children need to be encouraged to develop the three facets of fitness: flexibility, endurance and strength. Physical activity helps bring a strong sense of self esteem, and increases the sense of overall well being. When parents engage their children in play that helps build gross motor and fine motor control, it brings bonding between parent and child, and helps build developmental skills.


Obesity Epidemic in Paediatrics


Children are far more sedentary than what they were in previous generations, with far more screen time available. Netflix, video games and the Internet have become ways that busy parents entertain their children. Educators, paediatricians, allied health professionals, child health nurses, government policy makers and child health advocates push for more health promotional material to parents on the benefit of physical activities for children. There is a direct link between physical activity and cognitive performance, and learning ability in school.


Children are required to perform in a certain amount of physical activity at school, but often if their parents have a poor attitude towards physical exercise then children will be reluctant participants. Parents who however set an example of being physically active will have children who are more likely to be enthusiastic about joining in sport or other physical activity.


Screen time recommendations have been put at no more than one hour per day for children. Some sedentary activities are healthy for children because they engage the mind, practice the use of fine motor skills and creativity. These include reading, craft, listening to and reading stories and doing puzzles.


Obtaining Fitness Goals as a Family

Families who are keen to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle do so together, and role modelling by parents is one of the best ways of encouraging children to participate in daily sports and exercise. Making sports and play part of a daily regime, such as taking children to the park of a weekend and playing on park equipment, having picnics and going for walks of an afternoon together as a family teaches children that regular exercise is a normal way of life.

Children and teenagers now put in hours consistently before a screen (TVs, cell phones, tablets, and different gadgets) taking a view at an assortment of media (TV shows, recordings, motion pictures, video games). An excess of screen time and insufficient physical movement add to the issue of adolescence weight problems.


Incidental Exercise Adds up Significantly


Novelty step counters for children can be used by parents in combination with rewards for getting to daily fitness goals. One way of limiting the amount of treat food is to give children a weekly allowance and restrict it to that, which in turn sets a cap on the amount of processed and unhealthy food available. When a parent says that they will not be buying children sweets and treats for them, but they are to purchase this out of their own allowance, it gives children a sense of empowerment and choice.


Educating children about nutrition, about allowing and permitting treats in their diets as part of a normal healthy eating regime, and providing rewards for getting incidental exercise is a way of mitigating any types of unhealthy habits.


There is always a physical activity that children can enjoy and participate in, and some children feel intimidated by participating in competitive sports, so these children can be encouraged to find other enjoyable activities where they will not be subjected to performance anxiety. Children with low muscle tone, developmental problems and coordination issues would benefit from seeing a physiotherapist, and being prescribed a paediatric exercise program to assist them in gaining confidence and discover enjoyment.


Sometimes there may have been an event at school where a child was humiliated through missing a ball, or having a poor performance in a group sporting activity. Teachers may sideline a student who has less than satisfactory performance at gross and fine motor skills, which can contribute to schoolyard bullying and humiliation.


Physiotherapists Can Design Paediatric Sports and Exercise Programs


In situations such as this, it would be of a great benefit to take a child to a physiotherapist for assessment of any coordination issues, or gross and fine motor skill assessment. The child and parent can be assured of compassion, discretion and the application of a program of exercises and offering of suitable activities. When a parent approaches the problem of a sedentary child in this way, it helps eradicate the problem of a child feeling bad about physical activity.

Extraordinary compared to other approaches to persuade children to be more dynamic is to restrict the measure of time spent in stationary exercises, particularly staring at the TV or different screens. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests guardians:

Other Ways to Encourage Children to Be Physically Active


Restrict screen time that does not involve study or video games that incorporate physical activity. There are a lot of video games that do encourage physical activity, such as the Xbox that has a Kinect device, tracking body movements, and appealing to a certain type of audience. Encourage physical activity by providing toys that are activity oriented, such as bats, balls, scooters, bikes and other items.


Take your child to the park to play on park equipment, and as a family engage in play. This can incorporate ball games, chasey in the park, playing frisbee or having the family dog to walk. Walking with your children in the afternoon is an excellent way to bond with your children, and to provide physical exercise also.


Investigate Different Physical Activities that Engage Children’s Sense of Pleasure and Delight


A lot of after school activities don’t have to be simply group sport such as traditional soccer, or netball that are offered during school terms, and can sometimes bore children silly. Other really exciting and enticing activities include yoga, tai chi, martial arts, dancing, golf, Little Athletics and various types of participatory and fun events rather than traditional competitive group sport.


Bringing up Fit and Healthy Kids

  • Being a role model in eating healthy food and exercising yourself is a good way to encourage
  • Encourage your children to explore different options for activities with you
  • Set up a regular routine for physical activity
  • Integrate regular incidental exercise by doing more activities such as cooking at home, doing your own housework and encouraging children to participate, doing gardening and lawn maintenance, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking further away from shops and then walking to the destination
  • Ensure that you present physical exercise as a positive experience
  • Use variety in your physical activity routines
  • Invite children’s friends to come along on family adventures that are physical activity based
  • Do spontaneous play with your children
  • Play family games such as croquet after dinner or after a barbecue on the weekend
  • Set family challenges that are fun
  • Plan holidays that are based around physical activity and enjoyment

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