We know that working out and eating more nutritious meals can make us healthier. But what if your child isn’t seeing the results you had hoped for? You may find you need to make some additional efforts. Incorporating small changes in your child’s daily regimen can greatly improve their health over time. Keep in mind that while going to the gym is an outstanding way to ensure your child gets the exercise they need. Yet there are going to be times when you can’t get to the gym or your child doesn’t want to go. When this happens to you, here are 5 everyday activities that improve health in children with special needs:
Physical Play Time One of Our Favorite Everyday Activities
When your child gets home from school, daycare or day hab, the first thing they probably want to do is sit down and watch TV or play video games. And, honestly, who doesn’t want that? A little screen time is OK. But only if you take the time to manage when, what, and how much TV they get. If you want to see more positive changes in your child’s health, incorporate more physical play into their daily routines. This is one of our favorite everyday activities to help boost your child’s health.
Here are some ideas for games you can play together:
- Tag (Variations: Army crawl tag, rolling tag, etc.)
- Jumping Contests (Who can jump the highest? Farthest? Most?)
- Balancing (Who can balance the longest?)
- Dance Party (Jam out to your favorite songs!)
You’re probably already changing up your child’s meals to include healthier options, but what about their snacks? Children with special needs tend to fixate on certain snacks, and sometimes those snacks aren’t the best choices for them (for example, chips, candies, dessert snacks, etc.). The big problem with these types of foods is that while they are high in taste, they are low in nutritional value.
Childhood obesity has reached epidemic levels in the U.S. According to the American Heart Association, there are over 23 million children in the U.S. who are either overweight or obese. Children with ADHD are 4 times more likely to become obese than their able-bodied or able-minded peers.
However, this doesn’t mean your special needs child will have to live with being obese. What it does mean is that you have your work cut out for you. You need to have a better understanding of how ADHD affects your child’s exercise habits, food intake, and general health. Too many people think a hyperactive child should be thin due to their need to be constantly in motion.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Children with ADHD tend to spend less time being involved in many everyday activities. Especially those that require them to be physically active, and worse yet is their love for junk foods.
If your child really loves sweet snacks, try transitioning them into fruit snacks, and then from there, try moving them to real fruit. (Sometimes if the change is too sudden, it can be really hard for those with special needs. A slow transition should work better!) If they like savory snacks like chips, try getting them to eat nuts or trail mix instead!
Squatting, Rather Than Bending Over
Bending over to pick something up can be hard on your child’s back, but it can also throw off their balance. Generally speaking, balance is a tough thing to grasp for those with special needs. But encouraging them to squat when they want to pick something up, can strengthen their thigh muscles. Squats can also become part of your child’s everyday activities that can help improve their balance over time.
Walking in Silly Ways Is Another of Our Favorite Everyday Activities
The smallest change can become a game. Change up your child’s routine by acting a little silly with them. Encourage them to walk sideways or backward by modeling it for them. Moving into different orientations can make cardio more fun and improve balance. This may one of the most fun everyday activities on our list. The more different ways of walking you and your child can think of the more fun you will have. That’s right, you can have fun too by joining your child in their adventures in the ” Land of Silly Walk.”
Tickle Fights in the Morning
Depending on your child’s temperament, a morning tickle fight might be just the thing to get them out of bed and excited for the day. What’s more, when you tickle them, it gets them wiggling and gets their ab muscles engaged. This is a fun exercise and bonding activity for you both!
But you don’t have to restrict your tickle fights to just in the morning. In fact, anytime you have a little extra time on your hands is a good time for a tickle fight. It costs nothing but can reap major rewards and should become one of your favorite daily activities. Keep in mind that tickling may not be a good idea for children with some sensory issues. That’s okay, there are plenty of other ways to keep your child motivated. For example, hide and seek is one of the more popular everyday activities among younger kids. Be sure you make the most of every chance you get to play it with your child.
At Special Strong, all of our personal trainers are licensed to teach our exclusive CBSE Training Model. This is a unique fitness model for those with special needs that not only focuses on weight loss and better nutrition but also balance, strength, endurance and brain health. We’re passionate about working with children and adults with special needs and making fitness accessible to all. If you’re ready to take your child’s health to the next level, then sign them up for private training sessions or local group classes with Special Strong.
Special Strong provides fitness and nutrition for special needs children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other disabilities. Through our online training platform, we also provide special needs fitness certification courses for personal trainers and service providers who want to work autism and other disabilities.