Every parent wants the best for their little boy or girl, and keeping them healthy is one of your biggest responsibilities. Among the many challenges of raising a child is the question of health and fitness. How much exercise should a child get? What type of physical activity is best? Should you make them do it even if they’re not interested?
With the many different claims and opinions on these topics, it’s perfectly normal to be feeling confused. Parenthood is largely about arming yourself with plenty of love and patience, trying things out, and seeing what works. Having access to the right information helps immensely, though.
Keep reading to discover some of the biggest myths when it comes to children and physical activity. Dispel these false beliefs and you’ll already be a step closer to keeping your little one happy and healthy.
Myth #1: Working out can stunt a child’s growth.
Not at all. Exercise actually has beneficial effects on your child’s bone growth and muscle strength. Even strength training, which is usually considered to negatively affect growth the most, can be done if it’s supervised by a professional. Older children can be taught to lift weights in a safe and age-appropriate manner that will be fun and engaging for them.
Myth #2: Children need to take part in organized sports.
While organized sports can be great as a form of exercise, your child doesn’t have to participate in them. Although they do have several positive aspects, like socializing with other players and having a coach to help them learn, some children are simply not into sports.
If they prefer walking, running, visiting a cool local trampoline park, or doing another physical activity on their own, that’s fine too, as long as they don’t lead a completely sedentary lifestyle. These activities can be just as effective at keeping them healthy.
Myth #3: Parents should make their children exercise.
Forcing children to exercise likely won’t be effective. While they may go along with it, if they see physical activity as punishment, they won’t develop a love for it. As soon as you loosen your grip, they’ll go back to their ways.
Instead, make sure they’re having fun while exercising and frame it as a reward. One way to achieve this is to set a good example. For example, you can show them how enjoyable walking can be by going on a hike together and making a fantastic family outing out of it.
Myth #4: There’s no such thing as too much exercise.
Actually, children can get exhausted and overwhelmed if they do exercise that’s too vigorous for them. It’s important for their level of activity to be suitable for their age and fitness level. Instead, go for moderate-intensity workouts that are not too hard but still challenging enough.
Myth #5: An overweight child needs to go on a diet.
Restrictive dieting exemplified by crash diets is a bad idea at any age. Putting pressure on children by counting calories and obsessing about food choices can actually have far-reaching consequences on their mental health, leading to the development of eating disorders and body images issues. Instead, help your child lose weight by making small lifestyle changes, like eating balanced but tasty meals and doing fun workouts. .
Myth #6: Children grow out of their obesity.
Research shows that overweight children often grow into overweight adults. Although you can’t change the genetic factors that contribute to obesity, establishing healthy habits while your children are young can help them maintain a healthy weight throughout their lives.