The 2016 United States Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth has been released, and it’s clear our kids did not make the “movement honor roll.” In overall activity participation, 6- to 19-year-olds earned a dismal D-, with only 21.6% of them achieving the recommended 60 minutes of activity per day on most days of the week.
The report card is produced as part of the U.S. National Physical Activity Plan, which assesses activity levels and offers solutions for improvement.
“The Report Card is a resource for health statistics in children and youth in the U.S.,” the authors wrote. “More importantly, [it] is an advocacy tool that provides a level of accountability and call-to-action for adult decision makers regarding how we, as parents, teachers, health professionals, community leaders, and policy makers, can implement new initiatives, programs, and policies in support of healthy environments.”
While the report card is disappointing, fitness professionals and parents are in a prime position to get young people to move more. Erin Kreitz Shirey, founder of Inspirator Coaching & Fitness in Alameda, California, offers these suggestions to help kids earn a better grade.
Take a tech time-out. You can’t expect kids to put down their devices if you don’t do the same. Set a time each day with no tech, turn on some music, and tell all family members they have to move. Play tag, ride bikes, practice a sport, take a family walk, head for an obstacle course at the park or go for a run.
Emphasize active transportation. Incorporate carless days for your family throughout the week. If your destination is less than a mile away, walk. If you have a longer distance to cover, hop on your bikes and go.
Choose your own adventure. Create two “Fitness Adventure Boxes” with your kids. One is for daily events, and one is for weekend events. For the daily box, all family members write down workouts that can be done at home, like house obstacle courses or front-step workouts. For the weekend box, people write down hiking trails they want to visit, fitness activities they’d enjoy, or classes they’d like to try, such as surf lessons or tap dance. Then, each day, one person pulls an idea from the relevant box and everyone participates.
For a more thorough examination of how to encourage people to move, read the feature article “Embracing the Joy of Movement” in this issue.