We do a LOT of reading in my house and have since Philip was an infant. Now at 20 months old it melts my heart when he runs over to me with a book in hand and says, “book, please.” He loves to sit and “read” his books in his room, and it makes me a proud mama knowing that my husband and I encouraged that in him.
Just as parents try to emphasize the importance of education in their children, I also believe it is essential to do the same when it comes to physical fitness. The steady climb of childhood obesity is alarming and it’s so sad to me. In children ages 2 to 19, 23.9 million are overweight or obese; 33.0% of boys and 30.4% of girls. Obesity is the number one contributing factor to chronic disease, including Type 2 Diabetes, which can easily be reversed with proper diet and exercise.
It is a parent’s responsibility to feed their children healthy food and to demonstrate a healthy lifestyle through exercise. The problem with this is that 66% of American adults are overweight or obese and are not teaching their children by example. The obesity epidemic in our country is a huge problem and one that needs to be addressed.
Today I want to share a list of activities that my husband and I do with Philip to give you ideas to get your children moving so they will have fun, learn to love it, and continue to exercise throughout their lives. My list is geared toward toddlers since that’s what I have at home :).
- Swimming is always a fun activity for the whole family. We did a lot of swimming this summer but now that the weather is getting cooler I have signed Philip up for a mommy-and-me swimming class at the gym. He absolutely loves it and I’m happy it has given us something to do together before the new baby comes. Check your local YMCA for the toddler swimming classes that they offer. They are fairly inexpensive and serve as a great indoor activity for the colder months.
- We also spend a good amount of time at the park. We have a great park in our town and Philip loves to run around and climb in the playground. Sometimes I bring a ball that he can run around with, kick and throw.
- Baby/toddler gymnastics classes is another great activity for the colder months. The Little Gym is a great place to bring your toddler but it can be a little pricey, so again, check your local YMCA to see what they offer. We aren’t doing gymnastics right now but will probably sign up again in the springtime.
- On rainy days Philip loves to go to a “bounce house” and he jumps like crazy. Where we go its $10/kid and they can stay for hours. If your child is anything like mine I will warn you that it is a struggle to get them out…he throws an epic tantrum every time :/.
- Simply take a walk down the street. Hold your toddlers hand and point out stuff along the way.
- Turn off the TV and turn on some music and have a little dance party in your living room on a rainy day. My son loves to dance and he laughs so hard when we do this.
- Set up a small obstacle course in your living room with pillows and couch cushions to climb over. Nothing crazy but still so much fun for an 18 month old.
I think it’s also important to be active as a family. For us, since Philip is only a toddler he can’t participate in most things that we do but he can come along for the ride :). It’s still important because it teaches him by example and he will look forward to participating with us when he’s big enough. For example, we went bike riding while on vacation in South Carolina and Phil had Philip in a baby seat on the back of his bike. He didn’t love the helmet at first but he got used to it and he LOVED the ride. We also take long family walks or throw a frisbee when we go to the beach.
As your kids get older the options are endless and you are able to play just about any sport with them. I understand that not everyone is into team sports and that’s ok, but there are still so many things you can do for exercise like hiking, long walks, kayaking, swimming or skiing. We love to go ice skating and can’t wait until Philip is old enough to come with us.
These are just ideas to help motivate you to get out there and get active with your children. Teach them the importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle, and most importantly have fun while doing it. And just like reading and learning early on, introducing an active and healthy lifestyle in your children at a young age will help ensure it becomes an essential part of their life.
Happy Fitness Friday!