Getting the kids moving in the winter months can be a challenge when the weather isn’t cooperating.
But during the Olympics, parents can channel the energy of sports to get their children active, even if it’s indoors.
Kimberly Giuliano, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s said childhood obesity can lead to serious medical problems later in life, so it’s essential to make sure that children are getting the exercise they need all year round.
Children of all ages are supposed to get at least 60 minutes of activity each day and what better way to get the little ones moving than to channel the thrill of Olympic competition.
“Create little competitions for kids – see how many jumping jacks they can do in a minute, “said Dr. Giuliano. “How many push-ups or sit-ups they can do in a given amount of time. They can compete with themselves, their siblings or their friends.”
And watching the Olympics with children can provide a great opportunity to teach them about the importance of physical activity.
Dr. Giuliano said enrolling children in sports programs or activities is great during winter months, but if it’s not in the budget, parents can turn their own homes into a mini-Olympics.
“You can turn your home into a fun gym,” said Dr. Giuliano. ”Put some tape on the floor and make it a balance beam. Take a blanket and put it on the ground and call it your gym mat – do somersaults on the mat.”
Dr. Giuliano said building a foundation of daily exercise early in life will help children later on, as research shows children who are active early in life are more likely to be active adults.
“Children who are active will become more active adolescents, and then in turn become more active adults,” said Dr. Giuliano. “It’s really about creating those healthy habits and that desire to move is really going to stick with them for the long run.”
Dr. Giuliano also reminds parents that the easiest way to get a child moving is to lead by example. She says it’s important for parents to put down the electronics and model active behavior for their children.