Want active kids? Turn off your TV. New research on how parents’ behavior affects their kids shows that kids whose parents watch more than 4 hours of TV a day are at substantially increased risk to watch that much TV themselves.
Not exactly shocking.
Here’s good news for couch potato parents, though. You don’t have to exercise to get your kid moving.
Parents physical activity level was not correlated with kids’ activity levels. But TV watching clearly is.
The solution isn’t necessarily to rush straight to your local Little League registration. Dr. Russ Jago, part of the British research team that conducted the study, said:
“Our research suggests that parents do not need to be active for their children to be active. Parents should therefore look at ways in which they can help to facilitate physical activity for their children such as by encouraging walking to school or promoting outdoor free-play in safe areas close to home.”
With summer looming and only a small fraction of kids enrolled in summer camp programs, the TV might be turned on for more hours than usual. What can you do to keep the kids moving instead?
- Plant a garden. My kids are very active in our family garden, and spend some time every day watering, weeding and eating the food we grow there.
- Take up family biking. Leave the car at home and go on errands or social visits by bike.
- Play outside. You really can’t get too much outdoor playtime. Long periods of unstructured play are especially important for young children.
- Volunteer. Summer is a great time to volunteer, and there are lots of opportunities for kids to assist in community gardens, visiting the elderly, collecting cans for food drives and cleaning up local beaches.
- Take a class. Last year, my kids joined the circus for a summer, doing a free circus camp offered through our city’s rec department. It met outdoors a few hours a week for classes in balance beams, tumbling, stilting and juggling. Check out your municipal rec department or school district for some inexpensive activities the kids can do this summer.
Finally, of course, you can use the tube to get your kids to move. There’s no end of fun exercise, dance and yoga videos for kids. Another option: the Wii Fit has won support from the American Heart Association.
What will your kids be doing this summer to move their bodies?