With childhood obesity on the rise and the siren song of electronics keeping children inside more often, the need to get your children moving may feel urgent. Regular physical activity is great way to burn off kids’ excess energy and keep their bodies fit and strong. Here are some ways to help your kids get more exercise.
1. Make exercise fun. Kids, especially young ones, don’t really understand moving for the sake of moving. So, entice your kids to join you with appealing activities that don’t feel like exercise. Silly dance-offs, backyard relay races, and scavenger hunts are all great ways to make it more fun to get up and move around.
2. Enforce “no-TV” hours. Vegging in front of the TV once in a while is fine, but children should not spend long hours planted in front of a single activity. Without the TV, video games, movies and other distractions, kids will be forced to find something else to occupy their time…like going outside.
3. Stop driving older children places they could easily walk. When your children are old enough to venture a few blocks from home without supervision, or if you feel like tagging along for younger kids, make your kids walk to the store, friends’ houses, the library or the park. Even a few minutes of walking adds some cardiovascular exercise to your child’s day, and he or she will learn to be more independent, too.
4. Have your child walk the dog. The act of dog-walking (and cleaning up the messes) teaches your child responsibility and adds more activity to his or her day. If you have multiple children, have them take turns giving Fido his outdoor time. Younger kids may need to stay within your yard, but older kids could walk the dog around the block.
5. Put your kids to work–well, within reason. There are all kinds of age-appropriate chores both inside and outside the house that kids can help with. Raking leaves, sweeping floors, vacuuming, dusting and picking up sticks in the yard all keep your kids moving. Create a chore chart or another system that gives kids a visual reminder of what they need to do. Allow them to choose some of their own chores, too. No matter how you go about it, your kids will get some exercise, and you’ll have a cleaner house!
6. Be a good example. Just as your eating habits matter, so do your exercise habits. Children who see their parents following exercise programs are more likely to cultivate those habits themselves. Allow your child to do a yoga video along with you or to ride his or her bike alongside you when you go for a jog.
7. Find activities the entire family can take part in. Set up a badminton net in the backyard, or play boys vs. girls football in the backyard. The same goes for vacations, too. Choose locations with opportunities to swim, hike, ski, bike or otherwise stay active.
Exercise is important for all ages. By using the advice in this article, you can instill a love of physical activity in your kids and encourage a lifetime of fitness.