Ask most adults the major barrier to being more physically active, and they will tell you: Time.
We complain about how busy we are and how little time we have to step away from responsibilities and enjoy ourselves. Unfortunately, our love affair with over-scheduling ourselves has been passed on to our children.
Pressures to do better academically, be involved in leadership/service activities, and to “fit in” have been compounded by parents who over-schedule their children at an entirely too early age.
Author Richard Louv discusses this in his book, Last Child in the Woods, stating that children are experiencing a “Nature Deficit Disorder.” When was the last time your children sat on the ground and stared at a bug?
Getting kids outdoors, playing with other kids, is a key part of optimal childhood development. Kids need the chance to climb, swing, navigate through obstacles, and yes, even fall down once in a while. Without these opportunities to build muscle, gain confidence, and learn interaction skills with other children, kids are held back from their potential.
Take your kids to the park.
Let them explore a playground that helps them build confidence and strength as they learn to navigate through a course that doesn’t hold their hands through the problem solving of how to get from point A to point B, or even tell them where point B is.
Solution vs. Barrier
Going to the park is a simple solution, but it does run headlong onto the leading barrier: Time.
- Build time into your schedule to get outside yourself, and take your kids with you.
- Treat it like an appointment with your boss; you wouldn’t skip that appointment because you are too busy.
- Get outside, enjoy the challenge, and give your kids the chance to grow and learn through experiential play.
- It’s worth the time.
Get out and play,
Dr. Brett McIff
Dr. McIff has worked in physical activity promotion for over 20 years in a variety of fields from personal training to policy development. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Utah in Exercise and Sports Science. He continued his graduate work with a Master of Science in Public Health and a Ph.D. in Public Health at Walden University. Brett has served as President of the National Physical Activity Society and as President of the Utah Chapter of the Society of Public Health Educators and served on expert panels with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Academy of Science. He works with committees at the national, state, and local levels to promote environments that encourage regular physical activity.