With spring fast approaching, it’s about time to begin considering what activities you can plan to help keep your kids active. During the winter it can be easy to let kids stay inside and watch TV or play videogames; however, if allowed to continue all year long, behaviors like this can quickly become habits that are hard to break. To help make planning activities a bit easier for parents, here is what you need to know about the importance of staying active and what you can do to help get kids moving.
How Staying Active Benefits Kids
Staying active can benefit children in many different ways and movement can even help stimulate brain activity making learning more hands-on and fun. While children can learn from television programs, seated activities with limited movement can be harmful for long periods. Getting children outside and moving helps them develop stronger bones and muscles, as well as better motor skills. Physical activity is also vital for managing body weight and cardiovascular health, all of which can benefit them in lifelong ways.
Without adequate activity children could be put at risk for developing poor cholesterol, high blood pressure, bone problems, and excess fat. Physical activity helps prevent issues like these, and can even lower the risks of developing diabetes, depression, heart disease, and obesity later in life. A couple of other specific benefits can include improvements to:
- Balance and flexibility
- Confidence and self-esteem
- Stress management
- Brain connections
- Social skills
- Physical growth
All of these benefits align to make physical activity one of the most important factors in raising healthy children. That said, any physical activity works best when paired with the right types of foods. Outdoor activities can only do so much if children are eating too much junk food in between activities.
Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids
We all know eating healthy is important when it comes to kids of any age. However, do you know which foods are best overall? To help make the search easier, here are some of the best foods to consider incorporating into your daily meals.
- Yogurt: Yogurt is perfect for breakfast, snacks, and lunchtime treats. Filled with healthy probiotics, try and look for varieties that also contain vitamin D and protein to ensure your child gets all the nutrients they need. You may also consider yogurts that are flavored naturally with fruit and no artificial sweeteners or sugars. Greek yogurt, for instance, has double the protein, plus zero added sugar. When paired with granola of fruit, this option is both tasty and nutritious.
- Eggs: Eggs are another great way to start the day. Packed with protein, iron, and vitamins D and B12, eggs can be combined with additional veggies to boost nutritional value even higher. Some eggs are even fortified with omega-3 fatty acids which can help boost brain development in children.
- Whole Grains: Whole grains help give kids the fiber that many diets are missing. It’s recommended that children consume at least 25 grams of fiber each day; however, many are only getting one to three grams from snacks. Good whole grain foods can include oatmeal, brown rice, bread, and whole wheat pasta. Whole wheat options can be found in many different foods, so don’t be afraid to shop around and find the options that work best for your family.
- Berries: Berries are another treat that many kids don’t eat enough of. Packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, options like blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries are also low in sugar. Berries like these can be eaten alone as a snack, put into oatmeal or yogurt, or even turned into a refreshing smoothie.
- Vegetables: No matter what kind, you can’t go wrong with vegetables. Green veggies such as spinach and kale have high vitamin K content, peppers contain vitamin C, orange and red vegetables contain vitamin A, and cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower all contain compounds that help feed good bacteria in your intestines. The main thing to keep in mind with veggies is making them appealing to your child. This can be easier said than done; however, incorporating them into other foods or using creative recipes can help acquaint kids with these healthy foods.
When it comes to eating healthier, you can even consider starting a small garden or cultivating microgreens. This helps get kids more involved with their foods while also providing you the freshest ingredients. Microgreens especially are great for smaller homes and apartments and they can come in varieties such as arugula, basil, celery, cabbage, cilantro, fennel, kale, parsley, radish, and more.
Fun Free Activities to Get Kids Moving
Now that we’ve nailed down why physical activities are important and what you can do to healthwise, let’s talk about the types of activities parents can use to help get kids moving.
Outdoor activities don’t have to cost anything. There are numerous free activities that parents can take advantage of! Even things like taking your dog for a 30-minute walk can be beneficial to both your children and your furry friend. Plus, it can help instill a sense of responsibility if you frame it as a way for your child to help take care of your pet. If you have a fenced-in yard or similar outdoor space, your child can also take the dog out to play.
Some communities also have parks that you can walk to with your child. This can provide them with a lot of activities, as well as the chance to meet up with other kids and socialize. Parks like this may also have pools that locals can swim in for free as long as you’re ID has proof of your local address.
If you want to stay active around your home, starting a garden — as mentioned above — is another way to get your kids active outdoors. This too can help teach them a sense of responsibility, especially if you task them with weeding or watering. Additionally, skills like these can go on to benefit them in the future if they ever want to start a garden of their own.
Another fun activity that can vary depending on where you live is walking around town. While there is always something to see and do when you live in a big city, even those in smaller towns can benefit from a walk or bike ride around the block.
Low-Cost Activities for Families
While free activities are good for every day, adding in a low-cost activity monthly can be a nice treat for kids. For instance, if you have a zoo nearby, kids will love getting out and walking around to see all of the animals. A trip like this can also be educational, but in a way that kids will find fun and entertaining. They might not even realize they’re learning at all!
Similarly, children’s museums are good for both entertainment and education. Because they feature interactive exhibits, kids can learn in a hands-on way that’s designed to be fun. Museums like this often have new activities or exhibits, so you’ll always have something new to see and do!
Additionally, if you have a recreational center in your community, you could see the different activities they have available for kids. Often, rec centers will have different programs or youth activities that can help keep kids active with also allowing them to be around their age group. An option like this can not only help keep kids healthy but it can allow them to form lasting friendships with other kids from around your area.
It’s Time to Get Moving
As the weather begins getting warmer, now is the time to start thinking about the best ways to help your children stay active and be healthy. The younger children begin activities like this, the easier it is for them to become lifelong habits. No matter their ages, all kids can benefit from beginning to live a healthier and more active lifestyle. Parents can benefit too!