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How to help your children develop healthy habits

Posted by Joe Wicks - 189 Days Ago in: Fitness, Wellbeing

In an ideal world, kids would develop their own healthy habits from a young age. They'd happily eat every nutritious meal we make, and lead active lives without having to be bribed with the Xbox or a WiFi password. But it can be a battle to get children to feel excited about the healthy stuff and it's a challenge many parents face.

According to a 2016 study by Public Health England (PHE) and Disney, only 23% of boys and 20% of girls actually meet the national recommended level of activity for healthy development, which is 60 minutes per day.

Here at The Body Coach, stats like that fire us up because we're on a mission to get more kids active and feeling the benefits of exercise and to prove that health and fitness can be fun. 

In this blog, we asked health journalist and mum motivator, Natalie Roberts, to share some tips to help the kids – and yourself – feeling good about fitness. 

By Natalie Roberts

Get active and have fun together

Regular exercise is vital for good health, and The Body Coach's Schools Fitness workouts have inspired thousands of kids to get moving and have fun. But exercise doesn't just have to come in the form of a HIIT workout. The PHE and Disney study found that kids are far more motivated to do something active if they find it enjoyable or if their friends join in too.

So look for local sports clubs or classes that your kids and their friends can attend together. Or if you want some quality family time, spend the afternoon at the park playing football or try indoor rock climbing together.

Finding options for your kids to have both quality family and friends time will keep you and your children active, so you'll feel like you've totally bossed parenting. At least for a few minutes.

There are loads of fun activities out there and why not take on something that's a little out of your comfort zone too? There's no better way to set an example than letting your kids see you smashing something you didn't think you could do.

Introduce your mini chef(s) to the kitchen

We all know how it feels when you've spent hours preparing a healthy meal only for the kids to refuse to eat it. When my son was very young, I foolishly took the old 'you're not leaving the table until you clear your plate' approach for a few weeks, and it was terrible for both of us.

I knew I needed to find another way, so I encouraged my son to start cooking with me. He helped me prepare a few meals each week, and although it was initially just for fun, I soon realised he was more likely to eat whatever he had helped to make.

It clearly wasn't just a coincidence either. Researchers from the University of Alberta found that kids who help to cook healthy meals at home are more likely to enjoy eating fruit and veg than those who don't get involved with meal prep.

My son still won't go anywhere near kale or spinach, but I'm fine with that because I know many adults who feel the same way.

Try this tasty blueberry and banana breakfast muffins.

Little ears are always listening

It's not just all about exercise and diet - mental health is important too. We tend to forget that our children are constantly learning from everything we do. If your kids regularly see and hear you putting yourself down whenever you look in the mirror, surely this is going to teach them to do the same thing?

In fact, research by the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) found that 24% of childcare professionals had seen body confidence issues in children as young as three to five-years-old. Shockingly, 31% of nursery and school staff had actually heard a child label themselves as fat.

As parents, it's crucial that we look after our kid's (and our own) mental health and wellness. As your children grow up, teach them to appreciate their bodies for what they can do, not just how they look. Teach them it's important to not get stressed about small things, and show them the value of loving yourself and being proud of your achievements.

Lead by example

I will never forget when my son used to copy me doing tricep dips off the edge of my bed when he was four-years-old. He had no idea why he was doing them (or even why I was doing them), but he copied me simply because he repeatedly saw me doing a mini workout routine and wanted to do the same as his mum.

One study found that children as young as 18-months-old will imitate what they see adults doing, even to a fault.

So if you want your kids to lead an active lifestyle and develop strong health and wellness habits, lead by example. While you're busy setting that example, you'll also be reaping the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and getting closer to your own goals. So it's win-win.

Take small steps and over time you and your children will develop plenty of strong healthy habits.

Tags:

schools fitness week family

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Joe Wicks

About Joe Wicks

Joe Wicks is the online nutrition coach inspiring people all over the world to cook with his #Leanin15 video meals on Instagram. He is also transforming the lives of thousands of people with his tailored online nutrition plan, The 90 Day Shift, Shape & Sustain plan.



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