By Donna de Levante Raphael
Pride Parenting Columnist
Few gifts are better for your kids than the gift of a long healthy life. Those who find it easiest to stay in shape often have a history of physical fitness. They are involved in sports or dance as a child and learned first-hand the benefits of being active. Not only does physical activity help you maintain your weight, but it also makes your skin look better, keeps the brain sharp, keeps the stress level under control and can be a lot of fun!
Here are seven simple ways that you can help your kids get fit:
Do something they love. When kids discover something fun, they want to do more of it. Notice what your children enjoy. What activity could they participate in on a regular basis? How could you make this activity a regular part of their lifestyle?
Be active together. Fitness is a great activity your family can do together. Time with your kids, swimming, dancing or playing tennis is as much about growing closer and enjoying each other’s company as it does about getting fit and staying healthy.
Feed them healthy foods. Hectic schedules cause many parents to pick up fast food on their way home or zap something in the microwave. But the eating habits you teach your kids from an early age can stick with them throughout their lives. Keep refined sugar and foods to a minimum. Make leafy, green vegetables and other colourful fruits and vegetables mandatory every day. And eliminate greasy foods from your family’s diet.
Get them hooked on fruit. Make it a game to try new fruits over the next few months. Ask your kids which fruits they like best and keep them in the house – oranges, kiwi, apples, bananas, grapes tangerines, mangoes, blueberries, strawberries and more! These “live foods” are full of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals that give your children more energy and help ward off diseases and common sicknesses.
Limit TV and video games. Studies show that kids whose primary fun activity involves sitting in front of an electronic box (i.e. computers, television, video games) have a higher rate of obesity. Encourage them to be active and creative. This is great for their mind and spirit, as well as for their health.
Reward sports activities. Whenever your children participate in sports, make a big deal about it. Encourage them. Reward them for giving it their all. That kind of encouragement is motivating, and they will be more likely to continue on the path of sports.
Lead by example and leave a healthy legacy. Children mirror what they see. What you say is less important that what you do. If you have struggled with your weight or eating habits, what better inspiration is there than for your children to see you changing your lifestyle to a healthier one? Be open about why you exercise and eat healthier. You not only want to look better; but you also want to live longer. Lead by example and you’ll leave a family legacy that will positively impact your children, as well as your children’s children!
Donna de Levante Raphael is a former writer and publisher of the parenting magazine I-Parent, and women’s magazine Cayman Woman. She’s currently working on editing a new parenting media site and releasing a parenting book. To contact Donna de Levante Raphael: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more parenting information visit Village Parent Facebook page. “Like” us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/VillageParent.