The American Heart Association recommends that healthy children, age 2 and older, participate in an hour of moderate to vigorous activity every day. Children who meet this goal will find it easier to maintain a healthy weight as they work to prevent heart disease, cancer and stroke.
While an hour each day might sound like a large chunk of time, there are many ways to incorporate activity into your family’s routine. It all adds up.
Here are some ideas:
- Enjoy the great outdoors! Schedule a time each day for an outdoor activity with your children. Hike a local nature trail or ride a bicycle path.
- Join a team. Encourage children to join school or club sports teams.
- Schedule family playtime. Take a walk or play a family game of tag after dinner each night. Choose activities that require movement, such as bowling, catch or miniature golf.
- Choose toys wisely. Give children toys that encourage physical activity, such as balls, kites, skateboards and jump ropes.
- Limit screen time. Experts warn that one to two hours of screen time a day should be the limit for children, but some are logging more than double that amount. Set boundaries, keep the television and electronic media out of your child's bedroom and limit computer usage to school projects.
- Plant a garden. Caring for plants gives your children a reason to get outside each day. Learning how to grow a garden teaches the food system, while sampling the harvest encourages healthy eating habits.
- Chip in with chores. Rake leaves, shovel snow and do other home-maintenance projects as a family. In the end, your home will be better off and so will your family’s health.