No parent wants their child to be unhealthy, yet youth obesity rates are nearing 20% from ages 2–19. With fast food and distractions everywhere we turn, it’s easy to fall into bad habits. Even worse, it’s almost too easy to let our children develop bad habits as well.
Fortunately, there are always steps you can take to course correct and get your kids — and yourself — on the right track.
Creating a Culture of Health
Obesity rates in children have nearly tripled since the 1970s. Obesity, even at a young age, can lead to a number of health problems that can stay with a child for life. Some of the risks that come with childhood obesity include:
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Musculoskeletal and joint problems
- Sleep apnea, asthma, and other breathing issues
- Increased risk of depression and anxiety
- Fatty liver disease and gallstones
The risks of childhood obesity can have lifelong implications. The good news is that you can start your child on a path to health today. To help you create a culture of health, here are some fun activities you and your children can do together.
Note: If any of the challenges are too difficult or if your kids have specific food restrictions, adjust as needed.
Outdoor Activities and Family Exercises
There’s nothing like the great outdoors, especially when you’re a kid. Pair it with family exercise and you’re looking at a great time that helps you all grow healthier. Combine your children’s love for the outdoors with health using some of these fun outdoor activities!
A good old-fashioned game of tag is a great way to get the family active. Separate into teams or let everyone fly solo. The best part about this game? It doesn’t require any setup at all.
Carrot-Leg Pete’s Healthy Pirate Challenge
Who says exercise and healthy eating can’t be fun? Show your kids a creative and entertaining route toward healthier living with Carrot-Leg Pete’s Healthy Pirate Challenge. Pick a treasure of your choice — this can be a new toy, a day at a themepark, or anything you want — but don’t tell your kids what it is.
Next, you’ll need your best pirate voice. (Bonus points if you have a pirate costume!) Take your kids outside if possible, and introduce them to the challenge. Read each challenge and see if your kids have what it takes for the healthy pirate challenge. Once your kids complete the final challenge, award them with Carrot-Leg Pete’s precious treasure!
Note: Feel free to spread the challenge out over an entire week if it’s too intense for your little one!
Exercise can sound boring to little kids. Pretending to be an animal? That’s another story. Get your little animals moving and burning calories by having them parade around the yard using different animal walks.
Some fun walks to include are frog hops, bear walks, and crab walks. These will all work different muscle groups and help your kids burn off some of that mid-day snacking! Also, if it’s rainy or unpleasant outside, many of these walks can be done inside.
Click below to download a chart that details various animal walks your kids can do. The pictures are all black and white, so your kids can even color them!
Indoor Activities for Children
If the rain has you down or it’s simply too hot outside, some indoor activities are just what the doctor ordered. The following activities are great for kids of all fitness levels!
If your space is limited, you can always challenge your kids to do some in-place exercises. Jumping jacks, running in place, and even sit-ups can be fun when paired with some of your children’s favorite music. For an added bonus, make it a game to see who can do the most!
The Food Sorting Game
Knowing which foods are only good to have occasionally and which ones to eat regularly is one of the first steps to healthier eating. Help your kids learn which foods are daily foods and which foods are sometimes foods with this fun sorting game.
Print out the table and foods, and then let your kids color each food. Once they’re done, cut the foods out and have your kids place them where they think they should go. This is a great way for them to visualize which foods are beneficial and which foods should only be treats.
Indoor Dance Contest
Dancing is fun no matter your age. Throw on some of your kid’s favorite music and have a mini dance party in your living room. Dancing is a great way to burn off calories, get everyone’s heart pumping, and have fun to boot!
Healthy Food Bingo
Getting kids to try new foods can be difficult. Gamify it with healthy food bingo! Use the table below to challenge your kids to eat the various foods on the chart throughout the week. If your child eats them all, they win healthy food bingo!
Tips for Building a Healthy Household
It’s so much easier for kids to be healthy when the entire household observes healthy habits. Building a healthy household won’t happen overnight, but the following tips can help get you and your loved ones started off on the right, healthy foot.
- Have Family Meals (Sans TV): Having mealtime in front of the TV can be fun from time to time, but routinely eating in this manner can lead to overeating according to research. Reduce the likelihood that anyone in your family eats too much by having family meals at the table instead.
- Be a Role Model of Health: Kids learn a lot by watching their parents. Be the healthy person you want your kids to be and practice healthy habits. Eat great foods, exercise, and include your kids in these practices as much as you can.
- Ditch Your Junk Food: Kids are less likely to eat junk food if it’s not around. Purge your house of unhealthy foods and only keep healthy foods and snacks around. When it’s time for a treat, opt for a family ice cream outing instead.
- Be Involved in Playtime: Get involved from time to time when your kids are playing. Play games outside together, have family exercise time, and find other fun and creative ways to keep everyone engaged and moving. This is a great bonding experience and can result in everyone becoming healthier.
There are countless ways to foster healthy living in your home. Think outside the box and keep things fresh and interesting for your children. The last thing you want is for your kids to get bored with healthy activities, so keep the new ones coming.
Healthy Now, Healthy Later
Childhood obesity can impact a child’s life permanently. But, it’s never too late to start pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Teaching your kids healthy behaviors early on can result in those behaviors sticking, leading to them live longer, healthier lives.
While instilling healthy behavior in your children can be difficult now, it’s something that will pay off for the rest of your lives together.