Top 10 Tips from Dr. John Ratey (Post #1 of a 3 Part Series)

Are you looking for tips to help your children prosper using physical activity and exercise? Well, look no further. Dr. John Ratey, one of our expert bloggers, is here to give you a few more reasons to get kids moving!

Exercise for kids is first and foremost all about playing and having fun. It helps them develop physically (keeps them from being obese and diabetic), emotionally (decreases anxiety, bad behavior and poor mood) and is necessary for proper brain development (makes them smarter, more motivated, and helps their brains grow properly). Physically the goals for children are to develop endurance, strength and flexibility. Emotionally play and vigorous activity will help them more easily deal with stress, provides better attention span, helps to fit in with their peers, as well as be more resilient.

Here are the 3 Tips of the Day:

1. Parents should play with their children starting at early as possible in their lives. On the floor as the child is beginning to crawl, parents should encourage them to move correctly to a target (favorite toy or the parent themselves), and to just enjoy moving. Eventually the goal is to encourage them to chase the parent or grandparent as well as have the child engage and laugh with them. Make a game of it and everyone will enjoy it. Our infants come out of the womb expecting to move and if they do not move or play they will have smaller brains, be more inappropriately aggressive, achieve less academically, and be less socialized later in life.

2. As children age have them interact with other children and play as soon as possible, typically at 1-2 years old, but they should be involved with other kids as soon as feasible at 6 months or earlier.

3. Motivation is often a problem in getting kids to exercise and stay with it. Parent involvement in their own exercise is a big predictor of children picking up the habit and being motivated to move. Surprisingly this is especially true for the father’s exercise habits, they have a great effect on children developing their own physical activity habits. Hiking, walking, jogging, is often a good way to start having your child develop the exercise and activity habit alongside parents. Parents using a pedometer and encouraging a child to do the same often increases the amount of steps per day in both parents and children.

Join us next week for more tips from Dr. John Ratey!