If you have a young child, you probably think he or she doesn’t need to be motivated to be physically active. And you’re not far from the truth. Children – especially the youngest ones – tend to be on the move all the time, which is extremely important for their overall health and development. But as they get older, they may need some encouragement to stay or become active.

Helping Your Child Adopt an Active Lifestyle

Physical activity offers an array of benefits for children of all ages. It promotes strong bones and muscles, improves sleep, and reduces the risk of obesity and diseases related to being overweight such as type 2 diabetes. Last but least important, children who are physically active from an early age are more likely to be active in adulthood and be healthier, happier and more content. For that reason, it is highly important for you as a parent to step in and help your child be adequately physically active. To do so, you are recommended to keep the following in mind:

Promote age-appropriate activities. This is one of the most important ‘rules’ to follow if you want to succeed. If the activity is not suitable for your child’s age, either because it’s overly or inadequately challenging, he or she will not enjoy it. Instead, your little one will get bored with it or frustrated because he or she lacks the necessary skills. For example, while a pre-schooler will love propelling around with a riding horse toy, an older kid probably won’t go anywhere near it. And while school-age kids love playing team sports, pre-schoolers have difficulties understanding the rules and may lack the coordination to play these sports.

Keep it fun. The importance of choosing/promoting activities your child enjoys cannot be emphasized enough. Keep in mind that kids are interested in everything they consider fun and entertaining and have no interest whatsoever in activities they don’t enjoy. So, if you want your child to stay or become adequately physically active, let him or her to participate in sports/activities he or she likes the most.

Provide the necessary equipment and opportunity to be active. Most sports and activities, even the simplest ones, typically require some sort of equipment. If nothing else, they require appropriate clothing not only to make the activity enjoyable but also to reduce the risk of injury. In addition, many activities/sports require special settings (e.g., tennis court, football field, etc.), a way to get there and in many cases, some money too for training, use of sports facilities, etc. Again, it all comes down to you as a parent to enable your child to take part in activities/sports he or she enjoys the most.