If your kids like to spend their free time, surfing the internet, playing video games or watching TV you’re probably not alone. Although those types of sedentary activities may be fine in moderation, kids also need exercise. According to the National Institute of Health, regular exercise helps kids feel better about themselves, maintain a healthy weight and build healthy bones and muscles. Exercise also helps kids feel less stressed.
Telling your kids about all the health benefits of exercise may not impress them enough to get them active. But there are several things you can do to get your kids excited about exercise.
Most kids, even teenagers, want to spend time with their parents. Exercising together is a healthy way to spend time with your children. Go for bike rides, swim or go hiking together. With older kids or teens, consider taking a class together such as a dance class or some other fitness class. Make it a priority to keep your exercise dates with your kids. Being consistent sends the message to your child that both exercising and spending time together are important to you.
Make it Fun
What do kids want? They want to have fun. Exercise does not have to be boring or routine. Ask your kids what types of physical activities they would enjoy. Consider playing a sport together or going roller skating. Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to be a kid again when it comes to exercise. There are plenty of fun activities you can do with your kids which provide great opportunities for exercise. Consider a few of the following suggestions:
• Play tag at the park
• Jump around on the trampoline
• Make an obstacle course in your backyard
• Have a dance party
Setting goals with your child is one way to get them excited about exercise, especially with older children and teens. Keep in mind goals should be realistic and obtainable to keep kids motivated. For example, have your child set a goal such as biking a certain distance or improving their swimming speed. Help your child practice for a team tryout, race or other sports competition. Regardless of what your child wants to accomplish, be sure he or she is the one who is actively involved in the goal setting.
Bring a Buddy
In some cases, it may be motivating to your child to have a friend along when they exercise. For example, consider letting your child bring a buddy along for a game of basketball, or organize relay races with a few of your child’s friends. Although your child may not have a friend over every time he exercises, sometimes a buddy can be a great motivator.
Be a Role Model and a Cheerleader
Being consistent with your own exercise program is important to set a good example for your children. Avoid whining about exercise when you are not up for it. Keep in mind, your child takes cues from you when it comes to healthy living. Additionally, remember everyone likes a pat on the back occasionally. Praise your children for reaching fitness goals and encourage them to continue.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, kids should get about 60 minutes of aerobic exercise each day. That may sound like a lot, but if exercise is fun and kids are excited about it, it will be something they look forward to. Remember, helping your child develop good exercise habits is a gift that may stay with them a lifetime. If you want to learn more about the health of your community and activities they offer you can volunteer with local organizations like the YMCA or get your social work degree online and work full time to improve the lives of children.