By Dr. Kapil Parakh, MD, Fitbit Medical Lead

Movement and exercise from an early age is crucial to a child’s physical development, building strong muscles and bones, maintaining healthy weight, helping with sleep, boosting energy, as well as supporting their emotional wellbeing.

The World Health Organization notes that physical activity has significant health benefits for hearts, bodies and minds. Not only does physical activity contribute to preventing and managing conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes, it also reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety. Physical activity enhances thinking, learning, and judgment skills.

The family has a tremendous impact on physical activity levels.

As children grow and enter adolescence, their chances of maintaining healthy habits into adulthood are increased when parents set healthy patterns, maintain routines and incorporate regular exercise and activity into their lives.

Below you’ll find some simple ways you can incorporate healthy movement into your children’s daily lives.

Dr. Kapil Parakh, MD, is Fitbit Medical Lead and a practicing cardiologist creating innovative solutions at the intersection of health and technology.

Sign your children up for team sports

Have a chat with your children around what sports interest them and sign them up for some team sports with other children their age. It’s a great way for them to enjoy regular physical activity in a fun, motivating and competitive team setting, as well as finding out what type of sports they may want to continue participating into their adolescence and adulthood.

Create routines

Even with the best of intentions, life can get busy and it can quickly become less of a priority for parents to encourage their children to move more. Keep yourself accountable by incorporating physical activity into other things that you routinely do. Dropping the kids to school? Make it a walk. Need an aftercare activity on certain days? Go to the playground. Make it a weekend habit to take a trip to the park.

The family has a tremendous impact on physical activity levels.

If your children like to challenge themselves, consider getting them a Fitbit Ace 3 (ages 6+) so they can track their steps and active minutes. The positive reinforcement that on-device celebrations and in-app virtual badges provide can help create healthy habits and motivation.

If you’re up for it, get a device for yourself and try to keep up. Physical activity has benefits for grown-ups too!

Pull them into your workouts

Children love trying things their parents do, so a quick and easy way to get your kids involved in fitness is to encourage them to jump in with you next time. If the exercises are too challenging, work in age-appropriate modifications. If they prefer, have them dance and cheer while you work out.

Make fitness fun

Most importantly – make fitness fun! Children hate chores, and it’s easy for physical activity to feel like one if you’re too forceful. Create fun challenges, like those in the Fitbit app where the whole family can play along – and they won’t even know they’re exercising, they’ll think they are playing a game.

By instilling a joy for physical activity, you’ll give them a gift that keeps on giving over the course of their lifetime.