How to Get Kids to Exercise
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How to Get Kids to Exercise to build growth and learning…
One of the challenges parents face is figuring out how to get kids to exercise daily, especially between 12 and 15. One of the best ways to encourage your kids to be active is to participate in physical activities with them to be a good role model or walk or bike to get to school or other activities if that is an option.
Keep reading to learn some tips for how you can get kids to exercise, from incorporating regular walks to limiting screen time to making a friendly competition out of household chores.
Why Do Kids Get Less Active?
As kids get older, it can be harder for them to continue to be active because of a few factors:
- More demands with school
- A lack of role models
- Busy working families
- The feeling that they might not be good at sports
Keeping your kids active means being more active in their lives as much as you can. They can’t always do it alone and they need you to help them lead healthier lives.
Talk To Your Child’s Doctor
This will help you understand why physical activity is important for children and how you can incorporate it into their lives, based on their needs. They can also help you decide on activities you can do to keep them active.
Be a Role Model
80% of overweight children will become overweight adults, so setting a good example for your kids early in their lives is extremely important. Your kids use you as an example of how they create habits, so seeing you be active and exercising will encourage them to do the same. You might even want to invite your kids to join you for yoga or other activities.
Bring them to a recreational sport you play yourself and that can encourage them to want to begin learning and playing that sport themselves. If you need to go to your own game but don’t have a sitter, don’t rule out bringing them along.
More than anything, you should join in activities that your kids enjoy. Playing and bonding with you is the best motivator for exercising regularly, and it will keep you accountable too. If your kids want to go biking or shoot hoops, get in the habit of saying yes and making time to join in.
Make It Fun
Forcing your kids to do exercise only for the sake of their health will not make a good habit of exercising and is more likely to discourage them from participating. Instead, put on some music and have a dance party or take a walk that ends in a playground or petting zoo. Playing games like basketball or tag is an excellent way to get kids to exercise.
Find out what your child enjoys the most, whether it’s sports or just exploring. If they like sports, ask them what their favorite is and whether they like it when you play it together. If they like exploring, take them on a nature walk and let them learn more about the world around them. Keep their options open so they can find something they like so you can optimize the fun they have while being active.
Do It with Their Friends or a Whole Family
Inviting their friends or making a family activity out of exercising will change the experience from something your kids need to do into something they look forward to. Try scheduling a family session for a swimming class or volunteer to coach a local soccer team that your kids and their friends are on. Doing activities with their friends will also motivate them to do more physical activity in school and while hanging out with their friends. The more fun they have being active with friends, the more likely they are to keep the habit as they grow older.
Make It a Competition
A bit of friendly competition can help strengthen a habit. Keep score of how fast your kids can run or how many steps they take each week. Whatever activities you choose to do as a family, a quick scoreboard on the fridge or a whiteboard can be an excellent motivator. You can even make a competition out of how many chores each of your kids completes each week, with the winner getting a prize such as an activity of their choice or choosing a special dinner. Get creative about what you can offer as the prize and ensure that your kids know the rules.
Keep Sports Equipment Around The House
The more activities you can do with your kids and help them learn at home will help them teach their friends or other kids so they can do the same activities outside the home. It also just gives your kids something to play with when they’re playing outside with you and your family. Hoola hoops, jump ropes and an assortment of balls can keep your kids entertained for hours.
Limit Screen Time
It can become anyone’s default to turn on the TV or browse the internet when they have free time, even if other activities are available. Try signing your kids up for afterschool activities like a local recreation center or sport. When you allow some screen time, try to get active during commercial breaks or between episodes, even if it’s to stretch. See who can do the most jumping jacks before a commercial ends or have a mini dance party to a commercial with fun music.
You can also use screen time as a reward for doing physical activity. Tell your kids they can have their screen time after they come for a walk, hike, or a bike ride with the family, or playing their favorite sport as a family. While doing this you can also use this as a way to encourage your kids to spend less time with their screens and more time outside.
Have them go out and play 30 minutes before dinner. This will give them something to look forward to and will give them a nice reward.
Walk to School
Incorporating exercise as a form of transportation is an excellent way of getting exercise while still getting everything else done in your day. If you are within walking distance, try walking to school as much as possible. Biking to school is also a great option if there is a greater distance between school and home.
If not, suggest that your kids walk or ride their bikes to a friend’s house or even park farther away when you pick them up. Avoid using your car if possible. You can always incorporate an after-dinner family walk if you want to include walks as an exercise, but you don’t live close to any location to warrant walking there.
If you’re out and about then your kids, opt for taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or escalator at the mall or in the library. Walk or bike to the grocery store if you’re only going for a couple of things, and bring your kids along for the ride and adventure of it all. Maybe even stop off at a park on the way home if possible.
Anyway you can work in physical activity into your kids lives will help them make better choices in terms of their physical and mental health.
Plan Vacations With New Ways Of Exercising
Plan your next vacation around an activity, like hiking, camping, off-road cycling, kayaking, or snorkeling. Plenty of vacation spots have fun things to do in the area and cool physical activities you can do with your family to explore like a local. These activities might even become a routine in your family for years to come, like going on weekly or daily bike rides to greet your neighbors, or visit a conservation area with a bike path going through it.
If Your Child Doesn’t Like Sports…They Can Still Be Active
If your child doesn’t like team sports, it’s best to find out why, whether it’s the competitive nature, not finding the right sport or if they don’t like playing in front of others, there are some individual sports you can check out. You can sign them up for an individual sport like swimming, running, skating, or skateboarding.
Make Sure Your Kids Are Eating A Balanced Diet.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet will keep you and your kids energetic and ready to move. Talk to their doctor for nutrition advice on what you should feed them in order for them to have enough energy to join in on physical activities. A healthy balanced diet paves the way to a healthy and active lifestyle for your kids. The best thing you can do to nurture a healthy lifestyle early in life, and it’s never too late to start.
Keeping unhealthy snacks out of the house, or letting your kids have them in moderation, can help them determine what makes a healthy eating habit and what doesn’t, especially in relation to exercising.
How Much Exercise Do Kids Need?
Now that you hopefully have an idea of getting your kids more active, you will need to keep an eye on whether they are getting all the exercise they need. How much will depend on their age but generally, you want to ensure that they are getting at least some activity daily.
Girls will likely need more encouragement as only about 34% of girls get the exercise they need compared to 50% of boys being adequately fit. Some basic guidelines are:
- Kids around the age of 6 will likely get enough exercise through daily activities like running, skipping, and jumping.
- Kids between the ages of 6 and 17 need more intense activities to increase their heart rate for at least one house per day, at least five days a week.
You can always start slowly and see what activities work best for your kids and their schedule. Trying to start with daily exercise when they weren’t very active to begin with, is likely to discourage them and could result in injury if you’re not careful.
Never overdo physical activity with your kids and always be mindful when they’ve had enough. If they start to dislike it, they are less likely to keep going and associate it with good feelings. Always keep in mind your kid’s developmental level, ages, natural abilities and interests when picking activities to give them exercise.
With everything a parent needs to juggle, thinking of ways to get kids to exercise can sometimes fall to the sidelines. Try to form habits not only for your kids but for yourself to be more active even in little ways like going for walks, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and planning fun activities with friends and family.
The earlier you introduce active habits to your kids, the more it’s going to feel normal to them and make it more likely for them to keep these habits up long-term. Support your kid’s interests and encourage them to have more healthy and active lives with a balanced diet and exercise.
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Read this article to learn tips to get kids to exercise from getting more active yourself to making a friendly competition out of chores.