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About one third of children in the United States are overweight. This is a worrying statistic, but not necessarily a surprising one. Busy school and family schedules leave kids little time for physical activity, while computers and television are often a much more appealing way to spend time than running around outside.

However, if you watch kids on a playground, you’ll notice something interesting: when it comes to running, jumping, and playing, kids are a natural. Most kids want to get moving: all they need is the right environment and a little encouragement. Here’s how you can help.

Encouraging Kids to Be More Active

Kids need at least an hour of physical activity every day to stay healthy. You can help them achieve this amount of activity by providing opportunities to play and monitoring the amount of time they spend on sedentary activities. Use your knowledge of your child’s likes and dislikes to choose activities to direct them towards. Some kids will thrive on a soccer team or in a martial arts class, while others are miserable in these more structured environments. Never force a child to participate in a physical activity he or she don’t enjoy. Instead, work with them to find appealing ways to play.

Similarly, encouraging kids to stay active is much more effective when things are kept simple. If your kids are not naturally drawn to competition, keep the focus off winning and instead encourage them to just have a good time. Try to focus on age-appropriate activities and stifle the urge to push your kids towards better performance. Running, playing, and having a great time is enough.

Your children look to you to learn what kinds of habits constitute a healthy lifestyle. If you tend towards more sedentary pursuits yourself, your kids will likely mimic you. The opposite is also true: if you show them that you find physical activities fun, they’ll want to give them a try too. Make exercise a family activity. Go on walks or bike rides together, spend an afternoon hiking on some easy mountain trails, or take a trip to a skating rink. Engaging in physical activity together will help bring you closer and start building habits that your child can come back to throughout their lifetime.

Finally, do your best to limit the amount of screen time your children indulge in. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the leading causes of obesity, so monitor and control how much time kids spend on the couch. An hour a day is a good rule of thumb, but again, use your knowledge of your child to determine which amount of time is most appropriate.

Encouraging kids to be more active is an important part of keeping them healthy. For more guidance on how to maintain your children’s health, consider consulting with a chiropractor. Chiropractic care focuses on the whole body, making your chiropractor a great resource for more information on keeping your kids (and yourself) active.

With some time and a little encouragement, even the most TV-loving kids can learn how to get up and have a great time. Get out there with them and get in on the active fun.

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