The Reason Your Kids Should Be Exercising Instead Of Dieting

New research from the University of Georgia has shown that rather than focusing on your child's body mass index or diet as a measure of health, it's more important to ensure that they're getting enough activity. Even if your kids aren't interested in team sports, movement matters more than ever, and finding some form of exercise that they enjoy is critical. That's because the study also found that kids who weren't involved in team sports were more likely to be inactive or not get the required amount of activity that a growing child needs. 

As a parent, navigating how to keep your child healthy can be difficult. Childhood obesity is on the rise in North America, and the CDC reports that 18.5 percent of adolescents fall into the category of 'obese.' However, weight isn't the only health metric that matters for children. The study's lead author Sami Yli-Piipari says, "It's not really your weight that matters. Children can be a little bit overweight but still be relatively fit." That means being able to meet the requirement of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day that is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

How can you get your kids moving more?

Luckily, the 60 minutes of activity doesn't need to be done all at once. Kids can 'stack' activities throughout the day to add up to 60 minutes. Some of this time may come from gym class in school or team sport practice, but finding fun activities that keep kids moving on weekends or after school is important as well. Yli-Piipari recommends letting your child choose the activity, and mixing up what you do together. Consider a dance class or tutorial video, family bike rides or hikes, or a game of Frisbee in the park. Even a video game that requires children to move around while they play is an option for a reluctant athlete (via The Gamer). 

Not only will exercise help your child maintain a healthy body weight, but it's also vital for developing healthy bones, muscles, and joints, as well as a healthy heart and lungs. It also has been linked to psychological benefits including the ability to control symptoms of depression and anxiety while boosting self-confidence. 

And as a parent, it's critical that you practice what you preach, Yli-Piipari says. Don't just lecture your kids, get involved in activities with them. Ensure that you're also getting enough daily activity, since children are more likely to respond to what you do rather than what you say.