Children these days are much less active than children several decades ago were. Today’s children have plenty of reasons to stay inside and to glue themselves to the television, computer or gaming station. In fact, childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic with the number of children diagnosed as obese having doubled in the past three decades. To prevent this dilemma from occurring in one’s own family, parents should take an active role in helping their children find great ways to increase their exercise levels.

  • First, consider organized sports. Many children can get all the movement they need most days of the week by being involved in a sport’s league, a sports team at school or an extracurricular activity. Many children do especially well with team sports, such as softball, soccer or volleyball. However, there are still plenty of options for children who do not like competition. Some other options include dance, gymnastics or karate classes and rock climbing.
  • Second, parents should play with their children. If parents do not lead by example, children do not have much inspiration to get moving themselves. Many children long for their parents to go outside with them, take a walk with them to the park or don a ball glove in the backyard. Not only will parents and children get active together, but it is also a great way to bond in today’s busy society.
  • Third, exercise and activity should always be positive things. Instead of using exercise as a negative consequence, it could be a reward for a job well done, such as completing a homework assignment. Many sports provide ways for children to gain self-esteem and confidence, particularly in peer groups.
  • Finally, daily activity should never be questioned. Rather, it should be a part of the routine just as much as brushing teeth and eating lunch are. When children come to expect exercise, there is less frequent arguing about activity levels.
Toddlers and preschool-age children should engage in active play several times throughout the days while kids who are elementary through high school-aged should be active at least one hour every day. Activities could include anything that gets them moving and gets their hearts pumping faster. For ideas about exercise as well as for answers to questions about childhood activity levels, contact Dr. Matney, a premier pediatrician in the Victorville, California, area.