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Ways To Get Your Kids Excited About Fitness

Posted by Brooke Grant
Ways To Get Your Kids Excited About Fitness

Childhood is the best time to instill lifelong healthy habits, and it's more important now than ever. Childhood obesity is a growing problem in America, and is associated with lasting health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and respiratory problems. But kids aren't motivated by fitness and health for its own sake – it's important to find ways to motivate and engage them in a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways to get kids excited about fitness:

On their own

You can add age-appropriate physical exercise to their daily lives by incorporating it into the stuff they already do.

  • Make fitness part of their household chores. Age-appropriate chores can have a fitness element if done with speed. Sweeping, vacuuming, taking out the trash, picking up toys, helping with gardening or laundry might already be on their chore list. So add rewards or incentives for doing these things quickly, adding a moderate level of cardiovascular exercise into the tasks they already do. Or turn up the music and dance while cleaning, making a game out of it. 
  • Designate play time. Many adults remember a time when recess and play time involved tag, jump-rope, hide-and-seek, dodgeball, hopscotch, and other childhood games. If your kids don't get enough play time, or if play time has moved indoors, make an effort to re-introduce these kinds of activities into their lives. Healthy play has a lasting impact on the physical and mental health of a child, and is increasingly important in a stressful world.
  • Team sports. Schools and community centers offer a variety of team sport opportunities. Sports are a valuable learning experience for children, with lasting benefits for their physical and mental health.
  • Extracurricular classes. Many schools and community centers offer age-appropriate classes for children, including dance, martial arts, theater, and gymnastics. These kinds of classes are great for physically engaging children, and help them discover a variety of activities that may become life-long pursuits.

As a family

Kids are more likely to be engaged in activities that involve the whole family, because they offer social and emotional rewards as well as fitness benefits. Including the parents in activities is a model for lifelong healthy behaviors, and there are dozens of ways that families can be active together, and promote fitness for life.

  • Family walks. An after-dinner stroll around the block is a wonderful family activity, with opportunities for learning, bonding, and physical exercise. These could also be bike rides or dog walks. If possible, avoid strollers, so that even small children are moving under their own power.
  • Family play time. It's great to prioritize children's play time, but the whole family can participate in a game of tag, kick a soccer ball around, or throw a frisbee. Family games and play time brings everyone together, and kids will love it.
  • Adopt a charity. Involve the kids in choosing a cause where exercise has a greater purpose. Families can walk or bike for charity, or participate in volunteer activities like gardening or cleaning up public areas. The whole family can engage in physical activities that connect the family with each other and their community, and children can pick up lasting lessons about commitment and service.

Getting children excited about fitness requires engagement and support from the whole family. Kids need positive attention and reinforcement about exercise, because the approval of their parents matters more to them than their fitness levels. Try to create time as a family to do things that are fun and active at the same time, and build healthy behaviors together.

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