How to Get Kids More Active in Exercise

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You’ve said it a million times: "Turn off the television; you need to get more exercise!" With cartoons on 24/7, movies on the shelf and video games the latest rage, it’s hard to motivate your kids to get the exercise they need. According to an April 2007 article by the Mayo Clinic, the number of overweight children between the ages of six and eleven has doubled in the past 20 years, and for teenagers it has tripled. Instead of nagging, learn how to entice your kids to exercise and give them a habit they will benefit from for a lifetime.

Be an Active Role Model

Teach by example. Go for a walk with your kids every day after dinner. This is not just exercise time but quality family time, when you can discuss what’s going on in your lives and rediscover your neighborhood. Make it fun; challenge them to a race to the corner or see who can spot the most varieties of flowers. Key it to your kids’ ages; make sure you don’t treat a teen the same as an adolescent.

Plan Outdoor Adventures

Plan weekly trips to a state or local park. According to Doug Hewitt, author of "The Practical Guide to Weekend Parenting," this is a prime place to instill a love of nature in your children while exercising at the same time. While most parks have playgrounds and nature trails, they also offer a wide variety of plant (and sometimes wild) life; grab a book on trees or birds and see what you can discover.

Extracurricular Activities

Enroll your kids in extracurricular classes. Swimming, karate, soccer and baseball are just a few of the opportunities available. Find what’s open in your area and make a list; then ask your child to pick a first and second choice. If money is tight, check with your local recreation center or YMCA for discounted plans.

Home Play Equipment

Furnish your backyard with exercise-inducing play equipment. A swing set, jungle gym or tree fort will encourage your kids to exercise without knowing it; even a teen can be enticed by a trampoline. Consider a pool if your climate (and budget) is right; even a short three-month swimming season will get your kids in the habit of physical activity.

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