How do you get your kids off the couch and moving?
So, they’re home from school, homework is done, and dinner’s over. Instead of turning on the TV, why not go for a walk or some other form of exercise? It should be a mix of aerobic activity, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening. Here are some helpful hints to getting you and your family moving for about an hour every day:
Use a Step Counter
Kids love gadgets and a pedometer can motivate them to move even more. If you get one for everyone in your family, you can create some competitions to get moving throughout the day. How many steps to the mailbox? How fast can you take 100 steps? You could even keep a tally of steps in the kitchen for a little friendly competition, or have them try and beat their personal record.
Grab Some Fun Gear
Exercise doesn’t have to be a competition, and you don’t need fancy equipment. Keep a tennis racket, soccer ball, or jump rope handy and keep a hidden stash of new outdoor toys so on days when they’re bored, you can bring out the new stuff!
Try a New Location
It sounds simple but sometimes, you just have to have the right location. Take them to a playground, tennis court or a baseball field. Go have a picnic on the riverfront or the beach with a few of their friends. You may not have to do much to get them moving. They may be inspired by their surroundings or other kids.
Shop Around for Classes
Classes — whether karate or dance, tennis or yoga — can be a great way to get your kids to love physical activity. Oftentimes, trial classes are offered so you can try it out before signing up. That way, you know the money is well spent.
Play Video Games? Yes!
When it comes to fitness, video games don’t have to be the enemy. Use a game system with a motion sensor, like the Kinect or Wii.
Kids who get up and really move when they play active video games burn up to 200% more energy than kids who play regular video games sitting down. There are lots of games — physical fitness, yoga, sports, dance — you can rent or borrow. But it is still a good idea to limit screen time to 2 hours a day or less.
Make It Fun
Grab your child’s hand and go jump in a pile of leaves. You don’t even have to say “exercise.” Plant some flowers. Walk to the library. Make it a fun part of their everyday life, not something they “have to” do.
It can take a while to make it part of your routine, but don’t give up! Be encouraging and help them try out activities that don’t have to be competitive, like hiking or kayaking. The key is to help them find their element. Keep trying different sports or activities. Help them see that physical activity is for everybody..
Find Your Passion
If you want your kids to exercise, it helps if you do too. If they see you moving, they know it’s a normal, important part of life that can be fun! Find an activity that you really enjoy. Then share it with your kids. Even if exercising hasn’t been part of your regular routine, you can start together.
Sneak It In
For example, when you go shopping park far away from the entrance. If you have the choice of stairs or the elevator – take the stairs. Race to see who can put away toys first or make the biggest pile of leaves. Taking advantage of opportunities to walk, run, jump, and play will make getting physical activity a daily habit that becomes second nature to them.