Consider this: How much time do your kids spend each day playing computer games, watching TV, or on their phones?
While children likely need to spend some part of their evening completing homework assignments on the computer, it is recommended that they should spend no more than two hours a day in front of a screen. Why? Research states that children who stare at a screen for more than two hours each day are more likely to participate in less physical activity and consume an unhealthy diet.
We all know that a lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain and other negative health factors including bad posture. Too much screen time can also affect your child’s eyesight and cause problems with sleeping. In today’s world of technology, we know it can be tough to drag your kids away from playing Angry Birds or searching YouTube, but fitness is not only about physical health. Becoming active builds up a child’s confidence and working out with others and their families can instill a sense of a community and build social skills.
Physical Activity is Vital for Your Child’s Development
Kids and teenagers need to include at least 60 minutes of heartpumping physical activity every day to experience its health benefits. When kids are physically active, their bodies function more efficiently, creating stronger muscles and bones and improvements on cardiovascular fitness, balance, flexibility and posture.
Physical activity also has a direct, positive impact on children’s experience in the classroom. Not only does being active assist with the development of gross motor and fine motor skills to improve their handwriting skills, but also their concentration and thinking skills.
‘Exercising with your child creates stronger relationships, strengthens communication and builds lasting memories'
One of the most important benefits for children from leading a healthy and active lifestyle is that their self-esteem and confidence increase, which helps develop stronger social skills that are vital for the future when they are placed in a new environment.
Achieving ‘Family Fitness’
You may ask, “How can I find an extra hour in our already over-committed, busy schedule to incorporate ‘fitness’ into our family time?” Actually, stepping out the door and improving family fitness does not have to be time-consuming. There are many simple ways to build in some daily activities, such as nightly walks after dinner or family runs around the neighborhood. There are also many activities available for families in Shanghai, such as swimming, badminton, table tennis, indoor cricket, indoor soccer and bowling. If your children are old enough, getting a family gym membership will make it easier to continue to activate family fitness. Plan an active weekend that will have your family excited for all week, and choose holidays that will involve snorkeling, kayaking, skiing, yoga or other sports that you can participate as a family.
Of course, fitness does not need to be seasonal. As these lovely days of autumn come to an end, it does not mean that exercise time is over. In fact, staying active in the winter is extremely important. It boosts immunity by keeping the lymphatic system active, reducing the risk of catching a cold or suffering from allergies. Physical activity also benefits the entire family by creating more positive energy for everyone. Winter in Shanghai can be a bit of a challenge due to the weather and occasional air quality issues, so it’s important to make exercising as a family a habit. To do this, it’s crucial that you have a backup plan for keeping your family moving throughout the winter months, as devices on a “grey day” can be a default. Now is a great time to research the programs that will be available in the Winter so you have activities in place, and also to understand and determine the acceptable air quality levels for your family to be able to participate in outdoor activity.
Exercising with your child creates stronger relationships, strengthens communication and builds lasting memories. Talking about school life, friends, aspirations, politics and future university plans is while you’re exercising is priceless since quality conversations are harder to achieve on the couch and when everyone is plugged into a tablet or computer.
Families that incorporate physical activity into their daily lives are happier, healthier and less stressed. Active parents are role models for their children, setting them up for a brighter and healthier future. By fitting in family fitness into your schedule, not only will you all have fun, but you’ll inspire your kids and lead them to a lifelong journey of healthy living.
Faye Page is the CISSA Coordinator and High School PE teacher at YCIS Century Park Campus Pudong.