There's something to be said for letting kids have free time to find activities to entertain themselves. Non-structured time can allow for creativity, imagination and interests to develop. However, sometimes it's not enough to encourage youngsters to simply get outdoors or involved in activities. To set children up for a healthy lifestyle there are many ways in which you can integrate health and fitness into their lives in positive and practical ways.
If you take a holistic approach to fitness, then you can instill a healthy, organic approach and attitude to keeping fit in youngsters from an early age. In effect you can not only teach your kids to be fit but also enable them to be fit with the right life tools.
Body talk: Teaching children about the body, whether it's what muscles and bones the body has, and how metabolism works, is a great way to broaden their understanding of their physical self. Acknowledging the wonder that is the human body and understanding how food and exercise impacts this amazing machine can be fun and interesting to learn about.
Mind-body connections: Encouraging children to express their emotions and register how feelings make them feel physically, is an ideal way to make them aware of the link between the body and the mind. Fitness is about having a positive mental attitude and listening to your body. This connection can help children feel in touch with themselves and steer them to look after their wellbeing as a whole.
Feeling in control: Giving children autonomy leads to them having a greater sense of responsibility and gives them the foundations to take control of their own lives. In terms of fitness, it's worthwhile to let children feel they can choose different activities and for parents to allow for a wide choice and encourage youngsters to explore fun activities.
Sports interest: As well as actually getting kids physically involved, parents can also inspire a real interest in healthy pursuits by showing an interest in sports. This might involve supporting a local team, going to a game and experiencing the thrill of competition, team spirit and loyalty. By following a team or a sport children can develop a lifelong love of physical skills and prowess.
Food fascination: Diet goes hand in hand with fitness and yet so many adults don't fully understand nutrition and don't follow a healthy eating plan. Studies reveal that, surprise surprise, children don't naturally like vegetables and healthy foods, preferring instead sugary and salty snacks. Exposure to different foods and parents eating quality food themselves can help in developing a taste for a balanced diet.
Another good tip is to introduce kids to food from around the world and allow them to get involved in cooking so they feel comfortable creating recipes and can prepare fresh, nutritious food. You could include children in writing the weekly grocery list and include some foods that they've never tried before, to widen their dietary horizons.
Get the whole family fit by dropping us a line and look out for more ways you can teach your kids to be fit in Part 2!
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