3 Fitness Tips for Getting Your Kids Off the Couch

Photo credit: Vastateparksstaff (Family bike ride Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Our world today revolves around the latest technology in the form of smartphones, tablets, and video game systems. Big name companies compete to bring us the latest and greatest technology and it not only has an affect on adults, but children as well.

Children today are growing up in a completely different world than it was 20 years ago. There are first graders with cell phones, teens who would rather text than talk, and video games with such lifelike graphics it’s scary. The lure of these video games is especially strong in children and teens and brings with it the problem of little or no outside activity in this age group. As parents, it’s important to know how to get your children involved in something other than staring at a TV screen or holding a game controller all day long.

Be the example – Parents can set an excellent example for their children if they are active in their daily routine. If your child sees you exercising or spending more time outside than in front of the television, they will most likely follow your example as they grow older. It may take a little bit of nudging to get them to put the cell phone down, but it will happen. Likewise, if you are a couch potato, or have your nose stuck in the computer all day, they will be more apt to follow in your footsteps. Be the person that you would want your child to be. If you keep that in mind, it won’t be hard to set good habits in motion for the whole family.

Create a routine – A daily routine can help your child get rid of bad habits and instill some discipline in the whole family. Talk to your child about getting on a schedule and let them be involved in creating a routine that works for all of you. Limit the amount of time your child is in front of the television, on the Internet, or on his/her cell phone and stick to it. Make a trip to the park or a walk outside part of your daily routine. If it’s too cold outside, play a game of tag or hide and seek just to get yourself and your child moving. Small daily steps can help to break some bad habits and lead you into a new way of life.

Find activities your child will enjoy – This can be anything from organized sports at school to a daily trip to the local gym. Talk to your child about getting involved in school activities that will keep them moving. If he/she isn’t much of a sports fanatic, there are a ton of other ways to keep them active. Going on a family hike, swimming, or simply blasting some music and dancing around the living room are some fun ways to keep in shape and have fun while doing it.

It may take some time to establish a routine that works for you and your family, but don’t give up. Make small changes on a daily basis to get your child used to any form of daily activity. Pretty soon, a trip to the park or playing ball outside will be the new normal instead of coming home to play video games or surf the Internet. Making small daily changes not only forms better habits in your child, but in your whole family.

 

Protect Young Athletes from Dehydration

Photo Credit: Derrick Mealiffe CC-BY-SA-2.0
Many children play sports outdoors during the summer. Dehydration can be a risk when the weather is hot and the kids are playing. Children who engage in vigorous exercise that includes running, baseball, softball and soccer can become dehydrated quickly. Protective clothing and padding can contribute to dehydration and overheating by holding in heat and preventing the evaporation of sweat. Children who may be especially susceptible to heat-related illness include those who are overweight, rarely exercise, have a condition like diabetes and children who have recently had a cold or flu. Dehydration can increase the risk of heatstroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Most team coaches are trained to prevent dehydration by providing water and drinks to restore electrolyte balance in young athletes, but don’t rely completely on your child’s coach. There are steps you can and should take to make sure your child remains hydrated during a game. 
Make sure that your child drinks plenty of water before and during a game or practice session. Take your own bottled water and sports drinks to the game or practice and make sure that your child drinks a cup of water at each break in the game. Learn the warning signs of dehydration and take action immediately if you think a child may be succumbing to a heat-related illness. Dehydration symptoms include a dry mouth, headache, thirst, cramps, dizziness and fatigue. Make sure your child knows how to recognize the symptoms of dehydration and to report symptoms to the coach or to you immediately. Left untreated with water, dehydration can result in confusion and loss of consciousness. A child that appears to be confused should be taken to an emergency room immediately. 
Dehydration is easily prevented by providing children with plenty of water before, during and after practice and games. Talk with your child’s team coach about dehydration prevention and the warning signs of dehydration. Games and practice should be cancelled or moved indoors when the temperature and humidity is high.