Fun Healthy Activities for Kids
With the obesity epedemic striking at the little hearts of our young kids, creating fun and healthy activities for children is very important. Kids have higher metabolisms than adults because they are still growing, but we can no longer assume that they will just burn off whatever garbage we feed them. Kids need access to fun, healthy activities to lay a foundation of health and fitness that they can hold onto for the rest of their lives.
Fitness for kids has the same five components necessary in adults. Kids need to work on their hearts, muscles, flexibility, balance and nutrition. If a child is missing any one of those five things in their daily or weekly motor skill development, he or she may not ever develop it - not even after they become aware of their own lack of wellness as adults and attempt to "get in shape." How many adults do you see swinging on monkey bars, bouncing on see-saws, playing endless games of tag, or pulling themselves up through jungle gyms just for the pure joy of it?
The following five fun healthy activities deal with the five aspects of fitness that every child and adult needs. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to join in. Every healthy act nourishes bodies, young and old alike.
Fun Healthy Food
Children learn best through play. It's a fun way for them to learn cause and effect. Making fun things out of food is a great way to interest kids in healthy eating. Make celery canoes by filling celery stalks with peanut-butter. Who's riding in the canoe? Raisin people! Make whole-grain pancakes and draw smiley faces on them with honey which is healthier than syrup. Grow a garden, and leave a little section for the little ones. Give them freedom to dig holes and plant seeds. Let them water and let them reap the fruits of their harvest. You'll be amazed at how junior gardeners will eat their own lettuce, tomatoes and peas with delight.
Fun Healthy Hearts
Bike trailers are nice for toddlers to ride in, but as soon as they are old enough, purchase a pedal-trailer. This is great for adults that don't want to slow down for beginners. Don't assume that those short legs can't keep up. Go ahead and take a two-mile hike. Enroll them in soccer or junior basketball. Heart health depends on cardiovascular training, moving constantly for at least 20 to 30 minutes five times a week. Swimming is another kid-favorite way to sneak in some heart-healthy movement too. Go with them, and get your own workout!
Fun Healthy Muscles
"Sweetie, can you pick that up for me? Whew! You're strong!" Kids love to help, and their muscles can handle amazing challenges. Children under age 12 shouldn't engage in weightlifting unless it's done for specific health reasons and supervised by a professional. But strength training activities like friendly pushup competitions with dad or mom aren't out of line. Pilates, yoga, and martial arts build strength as children work with their own mass. Flexing without resistance also builds strength, so encourage your kids to "strike a pose" in the mirror. It will build their self-confidence and their mind-body connections.
Fun Healthy Balance
"Careful, honey! Don't do that! You might fall!" Overprotective parents contribute to their childrens lack of coordination and balance. Allowing them to take a few small tumbles will teach them important basics about gravity and balance. Assess the height of the wall they want to walk with their out-stretched arms flying like a bird. Walk next to them, offering encouragement, but don't guide their every step. Climbing teaches toddlers how to balance on the balls of their feet. Dancing with them and stomping your feet will lead to balancing on one foot, jumping on one foot, twirling on one foot. Keep a close eye on them, but let them learn, too.
Fun Healthy Flexibility
Do you have a twisty toddler? A child that can't sit still or a child who is constantly contorting himself into pretzels is not necessarily a bad thing. Sitting still is a luxury, a way of resting that children cannot comprehend. Encourage their flexiblity and direct their energy. Your children will follow your lead, so get down on the floor and try to touch your toes. Watch this video and notice how the children follow their mother right onto the floor within seconds. Practice flexibility with your children, and find a fun family fitness video that includes some kid-focused yoga moves or stretching poses.
Form follows function. The form of your child's body and mind follows the functions done every day. Lots of sitting and staring produces unhealthy form. Lots of running, climbing, playing, dancing, and consuming of raw, nutritious foods produces a healthy form. Train your children in the way of wellness, and when they are old they will make healthier choices.
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