Household Items Do Double Time for Kids Activities

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As a parent, it is our job to teach our children how to be physically active as it is our job to teach them morals, values, social skills, and educational concepts. Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure. Physically active children will develop gross motor skills, which will later help them to take part in games and sports with their peers, help them to build strong hearts, muscles and bones, improve thinking skills, encourage self-esteem and confidence, as well as learn that physical activity can be fun.

Kids need both structured and unstructured physical activity throughout the day. Structured activities are adult led and have a specific learning objective. They cover games like “Simon Says” or “Red Light, Green Light” and organized sports like t-ball or soccer. Young children should get between 60 and 90 minutes of structured physical activity throughout the day. Many of these structured activities help the child to learn a motor skill or increase competency in movement.  In addition, children should take part in at least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity or free play. This type of physical activity is child centered, child led and child initiated. Think fort building, climbing trees, running around pretending to be magical beings or super heroes, or creating a city out of boxes. Unstructured physical activity helps a child be more creative, learn to experiment, work cooperatively and think more critically. Both types of physical activity should be spread throughout the day and help your child to elevate his or her heartrate.

Many household items can be used as tools to help your child move more. Milk jugs can turn into targets for balls. Sticks can used as swords. Plastic bags transform into juggling scarves. And mud is great for throwing to ward off the bad guys. It takes some creativity and courage to get your kids active, but it’s essential to their health and well-being. Studies have shown that the motivation to be active (exercise) in adulthood can be influenced by experiences had in childhood.

For more ideas or how to use inexpensive items to increase physical activity, check out the Be Active Kids 8 one-pagers.

Evie Houtz, a program specialist for Be Active Kids, previously worked as a personal trainer and Health Enhancement Director for the Chapel Hill-Carborro YMCA and now, at Be Active Kids, focuses on coordinating statewide campaigns to increase active play and physical activity for kids. In the past, she also worked for Be Active North Carolina and helped increase physical activity in elementary schools throughout North Carolina. Learn more about Be Active Kids at beactivekids.org.

Categories: Fit Family