Monday, November 7, 2011

How to Encourage Physical Activity

As a developmental physiologist, creator and researcher of technology, a runner and mother I have addressed the question, "how can we encourage children (as well as adults) to be more physically active?" A majority of the technology we have in our everyday environments encourages a sedentary lifestyle (television, game counsels, remote controls, motion sensor lights)... think of it we have the CLAPPER! The form of technology that makes it possible to turn off lights with only clapping our hands. We have become lazy. I am not saying that all technology is bad, I am an advocate of properly developed technology that enhances learning and experience. But I feel that our society has reached a point where we have gone overboard.

When I saw a picture of a line to take an escalator with no one on the stairs, it made me think, "how can we change this?" There's a group who has developed, what they call, the fun theory. They installed a music device in a flight of stairs to make taking the stairs fun. What resulted was an amazing outcome of people opting out of taking the escalator. Those who used the stairs ranged in ages infant to elderly. The concept of making a daunting/exhausting task fun will ultimately give way to people voluntarily experiencing and taking part of the task itself, ie climbing stairs.

But, the fact of matter is, we usually don't have access to musical stairs. So how do you make your kids excited to take the harder path less traveled?... make it a game and get the whole family involved. Buy a set of pedometers and give one to each family member (you can get pedometer as cheap as $9.00, equal to a ticket to see a movie at the theater!) Explain how a pedometer works to your children and set ground rules like (1) we use it on weekends (2) the winner chooses the next family activity.. etc (really whatever works for your family). This isn't only great for getting your whole family moving, but making everyone realize how much or little they move.

We don't need musical stairs. We do need motivation because the technology we have in our homes is very enticing!

1 comment:

  1. We have decided that Addie has too many toys and too many clothes so this year for Christmas and her birthday we asked family members to sponsor an grandma A paid for soccer, and Grandma R and pawpaw paid for tee-ball and my sisters combined for gymnastics :)