How can physical activity benefit a young kid’s life?

If you get your children started early, they could gradually grow into healthy habits and eventually make regular movement a part of their everyday adult life.

My youngest child is three years old, and my oldest is 12. I also have an 11-year-old. They’re all beautiful girls; I love them.

Since my oldest was born, I’ve made a habit of taking her outside and getting her running around; everywhere I’ve gone, she’s gone. By the age of two or three, she was walking around alongside me. The same goes for my middle daughter: She’s been brought up to move around constantly with me.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that this habit has allowed my daughters to grow their confidence. When I’d take them to the park and say, “Hey, just run around with that kid,” they didn’t come back to me and say, “Dad, I’m tired. I can’t do it.”

Meanwhile, I’d observe other kids huffing and puffing. Perhaps they would go up and down the slide a couple times before running out of breath. They’d be tired out simply from running around the park. Why? Because they were not physically active enough.

A lot of the time, we put our kids in front of the TV and hope that it becomes their babysitter. As our kids grow older, they begin to develop negative habits. At age five, say, or seven, nine, or thirteen, they’re used to spending time with the TV rather than going outside.

Summertime is too hot. Wintertime is too cold.

I’m not doing this. I’m not doing that.

Kids will come to you and cry, but it’s important to stand your ground if you want to have healthy, active children.

The impact of physical activity is most important for emotional health. When kids lack physical activity, they fall out of shape and maybe gain pounds to the point where they’re overweight. At this point, they feel insecure; people might make fun of them. Emotionally, they can’t get through a single day without worrying: Is this person talking about me? Are they looking at me?

To be honest, I don’t know what goes through a five-year-old or a ten-year-old’s mind anymore, but what I do know is that physical activity is crucial for both of them.

Even if you can only get your kids outside for 30 minutes a day, you should – and that’s outside of school. We don’t want to just say, “Oh, we’re sending them to school, so they’re going to be good.”

As parents, we have to give our kids more than what the school is giving them. We have to give them all that we can, so that they can evolve and be their best selves.

These are lessons that have been taught to me by my grandparents and my mother. In my childhood, there was no TV and no sitting around in the house. I can still hear their voices: Well you better get up and go do something!

So, get your kids up early and start getting them outside. Run around the block or get on a bike with them.

This is an important point: You have to be active with your kids. If you involve yourself in your child’s physical activities, you both benefit. You can’t just say, “Johnny, go outside,” because Johnny doesn’t understand that. What Johnny understands, when he’s young, is that he wants mommy and daddy to go outside with him. He needs to do things with his parents, so they can understand them.