Children and Exercise

While most of us enjoyed playing outside and being active often when we were growing, today kids tend to spend a lot less time exercising and in the outdoors. This lack of activity leads to physical, emotional, and mental issues for many youngsters as a result.

As such, parents must find ways to make exercise more enjoyable for their children, so they’re more inclined to move their bodies. Here are some strategies you can try in 2020.

Change the Language You Use

If you want your children to be more open to exercise and not seeing it as a chore to be dreaded, be careful how you talk about movement yourself. The language you use to describe exercise will have an impact on how your children view and do it. If you speak about exercise in a way that makes it seem it’s something that must be done, as a job, or that is about purely losing weight or looking a particular way, you will set up negative links in their mind.

Instead, try to concentrate more on words such as fun, healthy, activity, movement, outdoors, etc., and all the wonderful physical, emotional, and mental benefits that come from being physically active.

Be a Positive Role Model

Similarly, make sure you’re a positive role model for your children by exercising yourself. After all, kids always look to their parents to see what they do, so if you’re not active, your children will wonder why they should be, and why it’s only something you try to make them do. This all leads to more negative associations.

If you exercise regularly, your kids are more likely to follow your lead. Let them know when you’re off to the gym, for a walk, or to swim some laps, and so on, and let them see you pack your bag and otherwise get ready for workouts. Also, talking to them about why you exercise and how good you feel after will help encourage them to want to be active like you.

Get Outdoors More as a Family

Another great way to make exercise more enjoyable for your children is to get outdoors more as a family, moving and being active together. Rather than spending all your family time sitting down watching movies, eating, playing board games, and so on, make sure you incorporate plenty of times where you can also move your bodies as part of family activities.

For example, walk the dog daily, spend time at the beach, do some yoga, go for hikes through nature, have a friendly game of basketball, swim in the pool, learn karate together, go rollerblading or ice skating, hit the slopes, or do anything else that appeals.

Integrate Movement in a Natural Way

man spinning kids into sunset, at the sea, two kids

It also helps to get kids to integrate movement naturally throughout the day. For instance, rather than driving them right to school, why don’t you all walk there together of a morning or at least drop your kids a few blocks away so they can stretch their legs and get their brain nicely oxygenated before they have to start concentrating at school?

You can also encourage things like taking the stairs rather than the lift, doing chores around the home (e.g. vacuuming, mopping, cleaning), and getting help carrying groceries and other shopping. Through these kinds of activities, kids will increase the amount of incidental exercise they do each day without noticing too much.

Up the Social Aspect of Activity

Even the most introverted of people are still social animals, so to get your kids enjoying movement, look for ways to make it more interactive for them. If you up the social aspect of activity time, they will be more focused on laughing with friends or making new ones than on the fact that they’re exercising.

For example, let your child invite one or more of their friends over to play each week, and enroll them in school sports where they can join a team, or in organizations like the Scouts or Girl Guides. Also, consider social activities during vacation periods, such as spring or fall tennis camps, or karate boot camps, or swimming sessions at the local beach or pool.

Three other ways to up the fun of exercise for your children are:

girl in lotus position yoga saying om

  • Consider your child’s interests and find activities to match
  • Add variety, so that kids get to try lots of different sports and exercises
  • Incorporate more games and creative ideas into movement sessions, so kids focus on the fun

Exercise is an essential part of being a healthy, happy human. As such, parents should try various strategies to help their children, even those who aren’t naturally coordinated or athletic, to enjoy moving their bodies daily.

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