4 simple ways to help your overweight kids exercise more.
It's not surprising that overweight kids often don't like to exercise. Exercising in public, especially in front of other kids, can be humiliating if your weight makes it more difficult to move around. In fact, just wearing shorts and a T-shirt in front of other kids can be too embarrassing.
A 2006 University of Florida study of 100 children found that bullying is a major reason why overweight kids don't exercise. Overweight children are bullied more than other kids, and they tend to avoid situations where they have been picked on before, such as gym classes or sports.
But avoiding exercise isn't the answer. Hardening of the arteries can start during childhood in obese and inactive children. Regular exercise can help children reduce – and even reverse -- the risk of developing heart disease.
As a parent, there are ways you can help. WebMD asked fitness experts for tips to help overweight kids find activities they'll enjoy and can do at their own pace. With your encouragement and support, you and your child can start moving more together. Here's how.
1. Build Confidence
Studies show that kids who feel more confident about their ability to be physically active are more likely to exercise. Try boosting your child's confidence with these tips.
Make kids' exercise easy to master. "All kids want to feel competent and self-efficient in any activity they do," says Jackie Epping, MEd, a physical education expert at the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the CDC. "So choose exercises that don't take a lot of extra coordination and skill. Brisk walking, bicycling, and swimming are all good options."
Take it slow. While health experts recommend that kids get 60 minutes of exercise a day, that can be a lot for a kid who hasn't been active. "Start with just 5 to 10 minutes of play," says Laura Alderman, MEd, an exercise physiologist and wellness coach at Sanford Health in Fargo, N.D. "For example, throw a Frisbee or play volleyball for just a few minutes and then stop when the time is up. The idea is to show kids that moving can be fun and to leave them craving more."
Avoid elimination games. Some games, such as dodge ball, make it too easy to be eliminated from play. "These kinds of games can make an overweight child feel self-conscious," says Epping. "And then the child sits out for the rest of the game and doesn't get any exercise."
2. Make Family Time Active Time
"One of the best ways to help your child get more exercise is to be active with your child," Alderman tells WebMD. "For example, play with your child at the playground or go swimming together rather than just watching."
Getting the whole family involved will also make it less likely that your overweight child will feel singled out. Parents need to be role models and stress the value of healthy living to their children on a daily basis. A family activity that may be especially helpful for overweight kids is walking the family dog.
"Walking a dog doesn’t seem like exercise to kids, so it’s especially good for overweight children who may otherwise shy away from being active," says Epping. "And walking with a dog can help increase social contact and provide a level of social support."
3. Find the Right Exercise for their Age
When considering the best type of kids' exercise for your child, it's helpful to try to tap into activities that work to your child's age, interests, and strengths.
Explore different activities. "Try to expose your school-age child to as many activities as possible," says Lisa Esposito, MS, RD, CSSD, LN, a sports dietician with Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. "At this age, kids often like team sports, such as soccer, basketball, or volleyball." For kids that don't like team sports, try activities such as gymnastics, swimming, or dance.
Practice builds confidence. "If your child feels self-conscious about her weight, she may feel more comfortable being active in the house or in her own backyard," says Alderman. "You can try to find fun ways for her to exercise at home, like setting up an obstacle course, using an active video game, or playing catch."
Buddy up. If your overweight child is reluctant to try any kind of exercise, it may be helpful to find a mentor. Younger children often look up to older kids and enjoy doing things with them. Look for an older friend, relative, or neighbor to be active with your child. This will help her see that it's "cool" to exercise.
Middle School and High School Kids
At this age it can be a bit trickier to get children interested in new activities.
Think outside the box. "You may need to start with small changes," says Esposito. This might mean walking to school, doing chores, being active with friends, or volunteering. Your teen may also be interested in doing active things with you, such as taking a yoga class, going on walks, or training for a charity walk or run together.
Go digital. Turn your teen's love of technology into activity. "There are all kinds of fun apps that teens can use to track their physical activity," says Alderman. "Or your teen might be interested in doing a GPS scavenger hunt with friends." GPS scavenger hunts, also known as geocaching, use global positioning system devices to direct players to treasure boxes hidden in a variety of locations.
Keep at It
If one approach or type of kids' exercise doesn't work right away, don't be discouraged. There are no simple answers, and no single activity is right for all kids. The key is to stay positive and be active yourself. Before long, your child will likely follow in your footsteps.
By Ellen Greenlaw
Reviewed By Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, PhD
Source - http://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/move/kids-exercise-tips?ecd=soc_tw