It’s a new year, and people across the country are working toward their resolutions to get healthy by exercising more. For parents, finding the time to prioritize physical activity is a struggle. As a mom of one with a second baby on the way, I know that I struggle making it a priority. And I’m not alone.
As parents, our resolutions should extend beyond ourselves. After all, we want the best for our kids and that includes ensuring they get the physical activity they need to thrive today while building a foundation for a healthy and active future.
A recently published study from American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) called “Strategies to Support Physical Activity for Parents and Caregivers of Young Children” identified key barriers that often prevent parents and caregivers from being active with their children:
Lack of energy
Mental or physical health issues
Lack of time
An increase in household chores
Changing roles and responsibilities in the household
Sound familiar? It sure does for me.
At Active Schools, our mission is to help schools provide students with equitable access to 60 minutes of physical activity and play every day and ultimately revolutionize how physical activity is incorporated into student learning. But outside of school, our hope is that encouraging active learning environments also encourages families to stay active at home and in the community.
The ACSM study outlines three strategies to help overcome these barriers, and get parents and kids moving more – coactivity, technology and reorganizing schedules. My favorite, and the most accessible of these strategies, is coactivity.
“Coactivity is when parents facilitate activities in which they can be active with their children.” Basically, this means being active with your kids and modeling an active lifestyle. I may not be able to take my toddler with me to the gym, but I can take him on walks or bike rides! Not everyone can afford the latest in fitness technology, but we can play active games in the park or yard! Even the most inflexible of schedules could find time for a dance party in the living room.
We want to arm parents with the tools they need to encourage more physical activity in their child’s school with campaigns such as Take Your Parent to PE Week and resources from our partner organizations. But we also want to encourage families to “walk the walk” and add physical activity outside of the school environment. Check out these “Active at Home” tips from our partners at Action for Healthy Kids as a great way to get started.
Everyone wants to get healthy in the new year, and our kids are no exception. Let’s work together to get them moving at school, at home and in the community.