February is American Heart Health Month! As a society, we tend to think of heart health as more of an “adult” health issue, but the foundations for cardiovascular health are often set early in life, especially when it comes to eating and exercise behaviors.In the private school world, team sports are a big deal. Teams are extremely competitive and have proud histories. Because of this, students not involved in team sports can become marginalized as far as encouragement of and engagement with exercise. This can be dangerous.
Team sports are a great way for kids to get their daily activity requirement, but competitive sports aren’t for everyone. Here are some ways to encourage a “non-athlete” to get up and get moving.
Don’t make exercise a punishment. Forcing children to go out and play may increase resentment and resistance. Try using physical activity to counter something a child doesn’t want to do. For instance, make it the routine that she can ride a bike for 30 minutes before starting homework after school. She will beg for 20 more minutes outside just to put off the homework!
Find an activity they love. Some kids just don’t like competing in sports. That’s OK, there are lots of other ways to be active! Try swimming, horseback riding, dancing, cycling, skateboarding, yoga, walking or jumping rope. Encourage children to explore multiple activities to find one they really enjoy.
Build confidence. Some kids are embarrassed to participate in sports because they don’t think they’re good enough. Find time to practice together and boost their confidence.