“Don’t do as I do, do as I say.”
Let’s get physical!

We have all been told this before by our parents. More often than not (and infuriatingly!) it turns out to the truth in the end.

This is because we emulate our parents’ behaviour, whether we like it or not. Parents are the biggest single source of influence in a child’s life. Children look to their parents as an example of how to live, and can develop their lifelong habits by modelling their parental behaviour.

This is true in all aspects of life – and physical activity is one of them.

Parental support of healthy habits in a child’s life will pay a lifetime of dividends. This is particularly so in the early years. Encouraging children to be active from a young age sets good habits early on and helps them develop the skills they need to stay active throughout their lives.

Don’t do as I do, do as I say. Fitmedia Fitness

Hence, parental support, which can take many forms, is vital in increasing physical activity participation among children and helping them stay active and be healthier in the long term. This is supported by research finding children who receive greater parental support for
physical activity and have parents who rate physical activity as enjoyable are more likely to be active. So, it is crucial for parents to teach their child the importance of being physically active from a young age.

Doing so will significantly impact in a number of ways, such as:

  • Improving long term physical health, including stronger muscles, bones, and joints
  • Assisting maintain healthy weight levels
  • Reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes
  • Reducing stress levels, leads to better sleep and improves mood
  • Aiding in the development of interpersonal skills (e.g., friendships, team work, and cooperation with children and adults)
  • Enhancing fine and gross motor skills,
  • Increasing self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Increasing school attendance and improves academic performance.

However, often, even though most parents today are aware of the benefits of their child being active and remaining active, they need to do more to encourage physical activity. In fact, in some cases parents often make this a low priority, when they really need to put it at the top of their list.

For example, it is common practice for parents to schedule time for homework, yet the same is not done with scheduling active time with children. Meanwhile, parents are often more than willing to write a note enabling their children to skip a PE lesson, lessening their physical activity at school as well, yes we said, and you know who you are!!

At the same time, research suggests with the rise of portable digital devices, more immersive computer games and social media means that children spend more time than ever in front of screens, being physically inactive. This has been shown to have negative effects on health development.

Don’t do as I do, do as I say. Fitmedia Fitness

Some reasons why parents struggle with getting their children active…

There are many reasons why parents can struggle to encourage physical activity. Some of these include:

  • The word becoming less safe. Parents often feel that they must be more careful about letting their children be outdoors in public spaces than in the past. This is perceived fear by the way.This has led to a decline in the numbers of children doing things such as walking or cycling to school, which are two very easy ways for children to be physically active as part of their daily routine. The unfortunate outcome is children are less likely to play outdoors in parks etc, or enrolled in a local sports club.
    • The rise of screens. Many children today have become additive to screens. They have access to a wide range of screen options such as computers, tablets and mobile phones, and they have become less interested in being physically active and parents are finding it hard to get them engaged again.The immersive and often addictive nature of screens and the activities they provide (games, TV, social media) encourages children to be sedentary. Removing children from their screens can have a large impact on their physical activity levels.

      The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that screen time is limited to two hours a day, whether that is surfing internet, TV or video games; to help regulate or monitor screen time designate a room for these activities and set a timer.

  • Physical activity is put on the back burner. In today’s world, often children’s schedules can be as busy as their parents’. Educational, social and cultural pressures means that even in extra curriculum time, children’s time is already packed out – homework, extra lessons, enrichment activities and social events.Meanwhile, for working and/or busy parents, it can often feel like a challenge to find the time and energy to be active, whether by themselves or with their children. Consequently, for parents, this makes finding 60 minutes a day for physical activity difficult (potentially due to the belief that it must be done all at once).

Don’t do as I do, do as I say. Fitmedia Fitness

  • Eating healthy is enough. Some parents believe that if their child eats healthy, they will be fine as they are getting the essential nutrients for growth. But just eating right isn’t enough to keep children fit and in shape.A sedentary lifestyle will soon turn your child into an unhealthy couch potato, no matter how healthy the food you give them may be. This happens because they need to burn the calories they are consuming. Simply put; if calories don’t burn they turn into fat. That is why staying active is crucial as a healthy diet: the two go hand in hand.
    • Use Food as Fuel. As stated above, eating healthily does not replace the need to be physically active. However, the more healthily you eat, the more this will help you when are physically active. Food is fuel – like a car, bodies run better with better quality fuel. Think of your favourite sportsmen – they don’t eat junk food (We’re not including Usain Bolt’s fondness for chicken nuggets!)So eating a well-balanced diet can help developing children get the nutrients that they need, and will help them get the most out of being physically active. A fun way to get children to make informed decisions about healthy eating is involve them in grocery shopping and meal planning and preparation. Being a part of this process helps children understand and develop a greater understanding of the food they are eating.
  • 22 Jun, 2020
  • by, admin