A lot of kids aren’t getting enough exercise these days, but parents can do a lot to help fix that. Part of the problem is the idea that physical activity isn’t “fun,” that it’s just some chore we do so our bodies can look a certain way. But both our minds and bodies are at their happiest when we get regular exercise, so how do we encourage our kids to do this?
Here are some pointers for parents to help get the kids moving more:
- Set a positive example - If kids grow up seeing you make regular, enjoyable physical activity a priority, they’re more likely to do the same. Whatever form of movement you’re into, find a way to make time for it and stick with it, for you and the little ones following your lead.
- Make it a family activity - This is easier when kids are younger and happy to do activities with their parents. It gets a little trickier with older teens, but making a regular schedule of physical activity, like walking to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning and Friday evening frisbee games, can help.
- Work it into your family’s schedule - A good way to establish long-term habits is by having a regular, predictable schedule. Carving out time for exercise gets tough with everyone’s hectic schedules, but when you don’t stay active, mental health and energy levels take a nosedive, so make the time.
- Find something that aligns with their interests - Try to find some form of physical activity your child might enjoy, like taking up running to develop lung power to play the clarinet they love, or having them train in martial arts to help with faster reflexes for their video game playing.
- Find alternatives for kids who hate sports - Not all kids like sports and trying to push them into something they hate will probably backfire. Instead, try to figure out why they’re not into sports. Maybe they’re not comfortable in a hyper-competitive atmosphere or they’re afraid of playing in front of a crowd. If you find your kid just doesn’t want to play a team sport, maybe they would like swimming, skating or skateboarding. And if they’re not into sports at all, there’s a lot to be said for free play, like jumping rope or riding a bike.
Photo: Getty Images