How To Encourage Your Kids to Exercise

White Text Against Blue Background that reads "How to Encourage Your Kids to Exercise". To the right of the text is a pink heart with a cardiac lifeline running across it. Above the text is a mother and daughter riding bikes with helmets on and giving each other a high five

 

Getting your kids to become unglued from the nearest screen can be tough in our digital age.  However, just like adults, kids need to be physically active to stay healthy.  Below are some motivating tips on how to encourage your kids to exercise.

White Text Against Blue Background that reads "How to Encourage Your Kids to Exercise". To the right of the text is a pink heart with a cardiac lifeline running across it. Above the text is a mother and daughter riding bikes with helmets on and giving each other a high five

I’ve talked about healthy fruit snacks for kids, but the danger of childhood obesity and poor health is a very big concern.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, only 50% of boys and less than 34% of girls ages 12 to 15 are adequately fit.  One in five of America’s school-aged children are above the 95th percentile for Body Mass Index (BMI), indicating obesity.  Children not getting enough exercise is concerning enough that  the American Heart Association ranks childhood obesity as the number-one youth-related health concern.

A few things to keep in mind when it comes to motivating your kids.  Kids under age 6 should enjoy natural, daily physical activity like running, jumping and skipping.  However, the American Heart Association suggests that kids ages 6 to 17 should exercise at an intensity high enough to raise their heart rate for at least an hour each day, five days per week

No matter what age, as a parent the first thing you will need to do is….

Get Involved

Children mirror the behavior of their parents.  According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, if one parent is obese, there’s a 50% chance that their children will also be obese.

One of the most positive things you can do as a parent is to engage in physical activity with your kids.  It’s important that they see that you enjoy being active.   This may be something as simple as using the family dog as a motivator.  Or timing a family walk right after dinner time.

Kids love it when their parents play with them.  So encourage your child’s fitness by taking a family hike.  Have a game of catch or play hopscotch.  Walk or bike to school together.  The important thing is that you’re making exercise and activity an important part of your routine as a family.

family playing tug of war at the beach

Understand Your Child’s Competency

Participating in sports has become the primary outlet for youth physical activity.  However, some children just aren’t drawn to organized sports, such as soccer or basketball.  As it’s only human nature, both children and adults are more likely to do what they feel they do well.

As a parent, try thinking outside the box and look for activities your child will enjoy, such as dancing, yoga, rock climbing, gymnastics, swimming, or martial arts.   There’s something for everyone, but patience (along with trial and error) may be required.

Make it Fun

Kids like to have fun, so they’re more likely to keep exercising as long as it’s an activity they enjoy.  Turn on music and have a dance party, or make it a contest to see who can run the fastest or do more jumping jacks.  Or try leveraging technology, such as a pedometer or FitBit, as a motivator to track results and encourage your children’s progress.

However, be careful about trying to do too much too soon.   When it stops becoming fun, the rest of your family will lose interest.  Running a 5K may be a goal that’s out of reach for your family, but walking one mile isn’t.  To this end, I’ve also included a link for some fun activities that you can participate in as a family.

So, in summary, choose physical activities your kids will enjoy, stay positive, and get moving.  When exercise is a regular part of your family’s activities, everyone wins.

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