In this digital age, it can be harder than ever to get kids to love to exercise. After all, instant gratification is available in so many areas of their lives. Tablets and phones provide instant entertainment with little effort, and for children and adults alike, technology can become a habit that we lean on more than other, healthier alternatives.
The benefits of exercise are clear. Kids who are active enjoy stronger muscles and bones, leaner bodies, less risk of becoming overweight, a lower chance of getting type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels…and generally, a better outlook on life. Children need exercise in order to grow and thrive.
So how do you get kids away from the screen and into the outdoors? Here are a few strategies you can use to make exercise fun and accessible to your kids:
- Incorporate Technology into Exercise: Do you have a child who can’t get enough tech time? Invest in a pedometer, or another fitness tracking device. Make daily exercise a fun, healthy competition between the members of your family. Your children will have a blast finding ways to get the most steps in. Set goals for the day, and even for the week! Celebrate each member reaching their goals with special activities on the weekend,
- Exercise as a Family: Children often develop habits that are consistent with their families. In order to start building healthy habits, it is important that they are modeled and implemented at home. Start building these habits in the home gradually, and make them optional. It is important to give your child the opportunity to love physical movement and recreation!
- Change the Scenery: Tired of walking around the neighborhood? Switch it up! Look for day trips that can be taken on the weekends. Look for parks where games can be played, or nature trails that can be enjoyed with the whole family. By keeping recreation time fresh, your children will stay interested and engaged.
- Don’t Mention that It’s Exercise: By choosing physical activities that your kids perceive as fun, they won’t realize they’re exercising at all! Get your children involved in dance, or martial arts. They’ll be up and moving without realizing they’re getting some healthy exercise in!
- Be the Change You Want to See: This can be the hardest part! However, the most effective way you can get your child to love exercising is to model doing it yourself. By seeing you take time to make your health a priority, they are more likely to do so themselves. What are you waiting for? Get out there, and most importantly, have fun.