Each of my children have different physical strengths, weaknesses, and interests. August really enjoys playing team sports and is in soccer and baseball. And although he's not the best on either team, he really has a great time and an even better attitude. My husband and I have had many discussions, however, and believe he'll thrive more in individual sports like tennis, golf, and running. This summer I got him in tennis lessons and he's become so much more confident and enthusiastic about sports. He's also asked to start running with me. I think he's coming into his own.
Hazel is both physically strong and amazingly coordinated. At a year she was dribbling a soccer ball. Now at 19 months she's passing. I think her sport future will be quite different than the others.
And Martha, she just loves to be outside running around. She doesn't thrive on structure, lessons, or practices. She's signed up for a few things this summer and fall, but I feel her long-term future may not be tied to many organized sports...although, who knows. That girl keeps me on my toes and surprises me each day!
What I'm saying, is that you have to know your child. You need to study their strengths, weaknesses, and interests. And regardless of what you come up with in the end, you need to get your kids moving!
When I think of only 8% of the high school seniors in Texas passing the state physical fitness test (which I'm sure isn't that strenuous), I feel sick inside. I feel bad for those children and what kind of future they'll have. And it reminds me that scientists predict this is the first generation believed to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. That is just too sad.
This 4th of July weekend, get your family up and moving! Go for a hike. Buy a hula hoop or jump rope and teach your children (and reteach yourself) how to play some classic games. Go for a bike ride. Get a sprinkler out and run through it. Go to a park and play. Go for a walk. Just get up, get moving, and enjoy some physical activity with your children!
And going forward, keep the following in mind to encourage lifelong physical fitness:
- Model good physical fitness for your children. Get outside yourself and get moving.
- In your family's daily life, incorporate activities your children can take into adulthood. Take nature walks, swim, take long bike rides, or go for nightly walks around your neighborhood after dinner each evening. The extra time bonding will be a meaningful bonus.
- Turn off the TV. Encourage less lazy forms of entertainment.
- Visit your local Parks & Recreation Department and see what kinds of classes they offer. It doesn't have to be expensive to get your children involved in organized activities and sports.
- Make physical fitness fun. Play games like badminton, bocce, and others as a family.