As we hear more and more about the importance of activity to combat childhood obesity, we need to encourage our children to remain active. Increasing a child’s activity level can be challenging, especially when competing with video games, iPads, and other on-screen entertainment options.
For children with NF1, we have an even greater challenge because physical activities can be harder. Children with NF1 often report fatigue, pain with increased activity and difficulty keeping up with their peers during sports and other physical activities.
So how do we increase a child’s activity? The best approach is to ensure success by following some general recommendations:
- Select sports that offer each child the opportunity to succeed at their own pace. Often times, these sports are not the ones that commonly come to mind and are typically individual, rather than team, sports.
- Expose your child to a wide variety of sport activities, including tennis, golf, swimming, gymnastics and martial arts. Have you tried rock climbing, cycling, running or fencing?
- Improvise! Activities do not have to be organized – playing tag with friends, having a dance party after dinner, or taking the dog for a walk all work on endurance, strength, balance and coordination.
Sometimes getting children engaged in physical activity simply takes a reminder that TV, movies, iPads, tablets and computers all have time limits. Establishing a reward program where your child can earn time on these devices by participating in physical activity is a great way to motivate them to get moving!