When I was a teen, if I asked my mom what I could do to stay fit, she would most likely say to sweep the floors or do some other household chore. That was back in a time when once the afterschool specials on TV were over, there was nothing to do but go outside and play tag, ride bikes, and climb trees. Today there are many different options that cause us to be more sedentary such as the Internet, video games, and our cell phones, so we have to be more creative in getting our kids to stay fit and active.
If your son or daughter is younger, you may find it easier to start a physical exercise routine now. Even if he or she is not interested in being a part of a team sport such as soccer or baseball, any kind of activity will keep your child healthy. For example, start with sidewalk chalk. Draw hopscotch or another game on the sidewalk and start hopping around. A jump rope and hula-hoop are also great exercises disguised as toys.
It may be a bit more challenging to get your teenager interested in sports if he or she has not already been naturally inclined to do so. Aside from the peer pressure to fit in, trying out for a sport can be a lot of pressure. Most teens won’t try out even if they are interested because high school sports can be so competitive.
Encourage your teen to stay positive—there are plenty of sports outside of school in which he or she can participate. Find nearby sports centers with drop-in games, where teens can stop by and play a game of volleyball or soccer for a small fee or even for free. Encourage your son or daughter to get a couple of friends together and have an outing at that sports center or a local park instead of the mall. Your teen may surprise you and become interested in a sport once he or she feels comfortable out there.
Perhaps the most important part of being active is being aware of the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your son or daughter and model positive behavior by staying active yourself. Invite your teen on a walk after dinner just to talk, or play a Wii sports game in your living room together.
Regardless of what you do, have fun and be consistent by incorporating exercise as much as possible into your daily activities. Even vacations can be an opportunity to hike, swim, and run. By teaching your teen the benefits of exercise and helping him or her find a physical activity to enjoy, you can help your son or daughter have a healthy and active life, even without traditional sports.