In today’s busy lifestyles, especially when both parents work outside the home, it can be a challenge to motivate your kids to get enough exercise. Television, video games and computers can lull children of all ages into sedentary habits; yet you know it’s important to their health and well being that they lead more active lifestyles. According to Doug Hewitt, author of “The Practical Guide to Weekend Parenting,” the most important step is making the exercise decision and then making it fun.
Decide to set an example. Kids mimic their parents; if you spend your day or evening off lounging in front of the television, they will, too. Make a habit of going for a family walk after dinner, taking a trip to the local park or a daily game of catch or kickball and your kids will bask in the quality time. They won’t notice that they’re exercising; they’re just having fun with Mom.
Challenge them. If you bet your daughter she can’t run around the house, she’ll be off like a shot. Dare them to go up and down the slide 10 times or throw the ball against the wall and catch it 20 times in a row. The trick is to let them have fun instead of making exercise a chore.
Chart their progress by making a wall chart of activities. Depending on the age of the child you can give a star for 15-, 30- or 60-minute increments of exercise activities.
Consider purchasing a Wii Fit if you live in a climate that prevents outdoor activity for long periods of time. According to a study by the Mayo Clinic that was published in the January 2007 issue of Pediatrics Magazine, children in normal weight ranges that played sport games on the Wii expended triple the energy than when they played traditional video games; children classified as obese burned five times the amount.