It is a fact that kids spend way too much time exercising their fingers with a TV remote, cell phone, computer or video games and too little of it engaging in wholesome physical activity. But how do you peel your kids and teenagers away from these addictive, enticing and often mind-numbing activities and encourage them to stay healthy and physically active instead? It’s possible and it may not be all that difficult to do. Here are some ideas to get your kids more exercise.
Enroll your kids in at least one sport, group activity or outdoor club. Keep in mind their aptitude and personality while choosing an activity. Kids are more likely to continue doing something they enjoy. So, whether it is soccer or baseball, hiking or rock climbing, tennis or swimming, marathons or walking the dog, make sure that your kids’ daily schedule includes at least one physical activity outdoors, as long as the weather and other conditions permit. Being outdoors, in the sun, by itself is rejuvenating and helps kids get some much-needed fresh air. Add to that an activity or sport and they also get the workout their bodies need. You could start by talking to them about their interests, then finding out what options are available in the local parks or recreational clubs and then coming up with a shortlist of feasible activities. Exercise does not have to be limited to the chosen sport or activity alone. You could take walks with your kids by the lake or take them to the park for a jog. If you’re going shopping with your kids, see if using public transport or maybe even walking to the store is an option. At the mall, take the stairs instead of the escalator. Park your car some distance away from the entrance, so you can walk to the store, mall or movie theater. Whenever there is an opportunity to get even a little exercise outdoors, grab it. With time, it’s likely the habit will grow on your kids too.
There are plenty of indoor activity options for those chilly evenings or for kids who are not the outdoor type. Dance lessons, for example. Choices are aplenty ranging from tap to ballet. Aerobics, swimming, squash, table tennis are all activities your kids can enjoy indoors all through the year. Based on her interests, choose activities that are fun and stimulating. Self-defense martial arts classes, yoga, pilates or a kid-friendly gym membership are options you can explore. Many of these activities help boost kids’ self confidence and strengthen them mentally and emotionally too. Enrolling in a class is not the only option though. If your kids enjoy dancing, allocate some time everyday for that purpose. Let them choose the music, invite friends over, maybe use an interactive video if they have to and turn your family room into a dance floor. Or you could create your own version of family dance night. Besides these activities, encourage kids to do household chores and help with errands as well. Give your kids specific responsibilities such as carrying the laundry upstairs, vacuuming the carpet or picking up a younger sibling’s toys. Be creative. Use a points system to determine the week’s winner who gets a special treat. Even a toddler can help with unloading the dishwasher or folding kitchen towels. So it’s never too early to start insisting that your kids help around the house. Everyone benefits in the process.
The most effective way to get your kids to enjoy physical activity is to engage in it as a family. Go biking, hiking or rock climbing together. Play with your kids outdoors. Put up a basketball hoop in your backyard. Learn a new sport or join a class together. For younger kids, you could try a mom-and-tot swimming lesson or gym. Engage in gardening or landscaping activities together. Get them to participate in redecorating a room. Volunteer in your community. Whether you cook in the soup kitchen, help fix things in a shelter, help out at a hospital or plant trees, take your kids along, as soon as they are old enough. Kids learn the most from the example parents set. So, to get your kids to exercise, you may have to take the lead.