If one parent is obese, there’s a 50 percent chance that their children will also be obese. But when exercise is a regular part of the family’s activities, everyone wins.
A few things to keep in mind when it comes to motivating kids. First, most young kids prefer “activities” to conventional exercise — for example, they’re more likely to take a bike ride than jog around a track. Second, older kids are more apt to do fitness activities with their parents if their friends come along. And third, many kids are motivated by goals, targets, competition, and progress-tracking.
Pay attention to how your child responds to different activities and scenarios, and then find the best ways to make fitness easy and natural for him or her to enjoy.
Here are 8 types of ways to get your child exercise:
1. Exercise Yourself
Kids are always watching you and picking up cues on how to behave. If they you doing other things, your kids are probably going to do the same thing. But, if they see that you regularly exercise and find ways to stay active throughout the day, then chances are, they’ll follow your lead. So, the first thing to do to create a love of fitness in your kids is to lead by example and exercise regularly yourself.
Yes, finding time to exercise gets hard when you have kids, a job, and other adult responsibilities. But if there’s a will there’s a way. When you’ve got free time at home, instead of camping out in front of your computer, get up and do something. Pursue an active hobby like hiking, canoeing, intramural sports, or cycling.
2. Talk About Your Own Fitness With Them
Another way to create a positive culture of fitness in your home is to make it a regular topic of conversation. You wouldn’t think kids would be interested in the subject, but they surprisingly are.
By regularly talking about my training with your kids, you are reinforcing a family culture in which physical fitness is an important part of life. Exercising is what keeps us strong and healthy so that we can be useful human beings, as well as enjoy life to the utmost.
3. Walk The Dog
Use the family dog as a motivator. Don’t just open the back door and let him out. Find a great walking trail near your house and take your dog or dogs for a scenic family stroll. He probably needs exercise too!
4. Think Outside The Playing Field
Not everyone is drawn to organized sports such as soccer or baseball. Look for other activities your child will enjoy -- like dancing, rock climbing, swimming, or martial arts. And have patience, it may take some trial and error before your kid finds the right fit.
It's probably time to explore another option when your child is no longer having fun. Keep trying different ideas until something clicks. It's important to get non-athletic kids motivated and moving so they can enjoy a lifelong habit of physical activity.
5. Get Them Involved With a Sport and Do It With Them
Encourage your kids to get involved with a sport that they enjoy. It’s an opportunity for them to be active, practice nascent athletic skills, as well as learn how to be coachable and work on a team. When they’re young, organized athletics should emphasize fun, play, and learning skills. There will be plenty of time for traveling teams and two-a-days when they’re in high school. So before you sign your kiddo up for a sport, check out a practice or a game.
6. Limit Screen Time
Pediatricians recommend that kids get no more than one to two hours of screen time a day, whether that's watching TV, surfing the Internet, or playing video games. But many children spend four or more hours each day in front of a screen. Encourage active alternatives to these passive pastimes, such as shooting hoops at the local playground, walking the dog, or a game of tag.
To help keep temptation at bay, remove TVs from bedrooms and put the computer in a shared space where you can supervise. If you have teens, set guidelines about other sedentary pursuits like chatting on the phone or text messaging.
7. Time It Right
Schedule workouts for a time that has the highest probability that everyone will actually do them. After dinner, for example, is a great time for a family walk or a game of croquet, because you’re all together. After school is also a good time for kids, who’ve been sitting all day and need to burn off some of that pent-up energy.
8. Do Not Overdo It
When your child is ready to start, remember to tell her to listen to her body. Exercise and physical activity should not hurt. If this occurs, your child should slow down or try a less vigorous activity. As with any activity, it is important not to overdo it. If your child's weight drops below an average, acceptable level or if exercise starts to interfere with school or other activities, talk with your child's doctor.
As a parent, you’re in a unique and crucial position to create a culture of physical fitness in your home. Lead by example by exercising yourself and finding ways to reinforce a love of physical fitness in your family. In this post, I shared with you the 8 types of ways to get your child exercise.
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