One of the very important aspects of bringing up healthy, happy children is to get them active with cardiovascular exercise. Active children are much more likely to grow up into active, healthy adults than children who spend all their time on the couch or in front of the computer. And with 2010's American children obesity rate of 18%, it's important to teach your kids healthy habits at a young age to beat becoming a statistic.
But cardiovascular exercise doesn't only reduce the risk of obesity in their younger and adult lives. It also increases coordination and balance and it helps to improve social skills and sleeping patterns. Regular exercise is also known to increase a child's self-esteem, self-confidence and phycological well-being.
Running is the most cardio-intense exercise and an obvious choice when it comes to cardio, but children might find this boring and parents could think it's unsafe. Luckily, there are sports that your kids can participate in that will also get their heart rates going and improve their fitness levels.
Soccer involves a lot of running and is therefore a great cardio-healthy sport. The field is large and the kids will have fun playing together in a big team. Children don't need a lot of equipment to play soccer, and if they don't enjoy competitive team sports then they can always play friendly, fun soccer games in the local park.
Hockey is another sport that is played on a big field, in a large team and involves high levels of cardiovascular exercise. And don't worry too much about spending a fortune on gear, as you'll be surprised at the amounts of cheap hockey equipment on clearance available out there.
Another great sport that the boys might enjoy a bit more is basketball. They can either play in a school team, at a club or play friendly games closer to home. One basketball net against a wall in the yard is enough to make for a great basket ball game between father and son.
If girls don't like ball sports all that much, then dancing is a great way of getting in healthy cardiovascular exercise. Whether it be a very disciplined form of dance like ballet, or whether they're more prone to hip hop or funk classes, it's a great way to teach them rhythm while having fun and getting a chance to perform.
Lastly, we shouldn't forget about tennis. Again, tennis doesn't require a lot of expensive equipment as kids can play in their shorts and t-shirts and they only need to bring a tennis racket along. Tennis is a game usually played on a solo level, so individualistic children might enjoy this.
The ideal amount of exercise to keep your kids healthy is one hour per day, but if they are playing team sports, they might train for more than an hour and then two sessions per week and perhaps a friendly game or bicycle ride over the weekend will make for healthy, happy kids.