Physical activity: A habit formed in childhood Physical activity: A habit formed in childhood

Parents play key roles in teaching their children about healthy lifestyles. Leading by example is the best way to do this.

Several studies and articles support the idea that physical activity is a key element of a healthy life, both in adults and in children. With children, parents should provide the motivation for this habit from an early age for it to be an integral part of their lives as adults.

The Colombian Pediatric Association recommends initiating moderate to vigorous exercise that is mostly aerobic, including playing, for 60 minutes a day with children ages two and older. This does not refer to playing sports, which is recommended for children once they turn seven, when their motor skills are more developed.

“Opt for outdoor group activities in an environment that is physically suitable and safe. Be sure they drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated, especially when the activity is intense and it is hot outside. This should go along with a varied and balanced diet, which is also essential to caring for their health and staying healthy,” the association states.

The best way to motivate children to adopt a healthy behavior is to practice it as a family and teach by example as parents. Also read: Making physical activity a habit.

According to the WHO, in 2010, 81% of adolescents ages 11 to 17 were insufficiently physically active.