Awake From Hibernation
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Spring is upon us. Whether it’s the warm breeze, the brown grass starting to perk up, or the weekly tease of 60 degrees and sun, signs of spring are beginning to show. For those who have spent the last few months in fitness hibernation, now is the time to rise, shine, and meet the spring season with renewed energy.
Just as it does for adults, winter provides many opportunities for kids to stay inside and pass on physical activity. As role models for young people, we have a critical responsibility to encourage physical activity and healthy behaviors.
Use the following strategies to help your kids to experience all the benefits of physical activity.
You are not alone
As of March 21, 2019, the video game “Fortnite” has more than 200 million registered players. Recognize that you are not alone if you struggle to get your kid away from the screen and back to being active. To help encourage activity, remind your child they are not alone either. Reach out to other parents who are also looking to get their kids more active. When youth have others to play and exercise with, they are more likely to enjoy their time and come back for more. Set up neighborhood bike rides, organize carpools to the gym to lift weights, or plan a group outing to a trampoline park.
Don’t stress success
Today’s society strongly emphasizes the need to do well and win. In order to encourage more physical activity, do not stress success. Rather, stress improvement. Register your child for a clinic or workshop such as a youth ninja warrior course or triathlon clinic. These learning environments allow each child to recognize their own progress, improve in a physical skill and activity, and not have to compare themselves to the accomplishment of others.
Monkey see – monkey do
Hang out with a 1-year-old for an hour and you will quickly realize how much kids pay attention. Now consider how much an impressionable 8-year-old can pick-up on. In an effort to encourage healthy behaviors, make yourself part of the solution. Even without verbal direction, kids will watch and follow the actions of the adults in their lives. Pay attention to your own healthy habits and the kids in your life will be that much more likely to follow right along.
Explore new opportunities
Structured practices, intense coaches, and high expectations can all be deterrents for kids. Despite their many benefits, team sports may not be for everyone. When it comes to building healthy lifestyles for kids, consider how kids thrive in all sorts of environments. Explore a nature trail to watch birds, analyze animal tracks, and enjoy nature. Search out local jungle gyms for games of tag that challenge all sorts of movements. Physical activity comes in so many forms, so make sure your child gets the opportunity to explore what they enjoy best.
Breaking old winter habits in order to create new healthy ones can be challenging. As we transition from winter to spring, try these strategies to help kids recognize the joy and benefits of being physically active and everyone will have a healthy and happy summer.
Nick Rozek Greater Green Bay YMCA
East Side Healthy Living Director & Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist