There is a 50 percent probability that children of even just one obese parent will also be obese, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Numerous studies have also shown that a growing number of cases of child obesity. While poor diet may usually be blamed as the culprit, the lack of exercise must not be downplayed.
Exercise routines are not exactly good news for adults, and more so for kids. So try to frame exercise as any form of physical “activity” which kids can enjoy rather than a fixed set of workout routines. With the advent of technology, kids nowadays are glued to their screens more often than they ever go outside. We can’t blame them for wanting computer games over physical activity because of the variety it offers.
So how do we encourage and motivate kids to want to engage in more physical activities? Here are simple ideas to get your kids exercising (without them realizing it).
Fitness is in. Various fitness establishments and exercise routines are all over the internet and TV. A lot of famous people depict fitness and exercise as cool. So it won’t be hard to convince your children that hitting the gym or getting into a fitness program is cool. For instance, one of the many Les Mills fitness programs is born to Move for children as young as 2 years old. Here, they combine music, play and exercise in a class that your kids will definitely enjoy. It feels like playing but they’re actually exercising.
Be in nature. Swap indoor activities with outdoor ones. Sunshine and fresh air are great mood boosters. It also boosts your children’s appreciation of nature. With the scenic view, they won’t even notice you’ve walked, jogged, ran, or hiked far because they’re preoccupied with the beautiful sight. National parks and zoos are great options.
Be spontaneous. Spice ordinary things with some physical activity that’s both challenging and creative or something that your kids will also interpret as “play”. Turn the walk from the car to the house into a race. Do pushups during commercials. Make organizing the groceries into a challenge rather than a chore.
Join the team. Why not make it a family bonding experience? Kids love it when the parents they look up to are part of the game. Go for a hike. Play basketball in the yard. Utilize the swimming pool. Leading by example also plays a role. Parents are role models and if they see you maintaining an active lifestyle, they’ll likely follow you.
Chart progress. Kids like games where there is competition or a sense of accomplishment. If your kid is motivated by these, keep a visible record tracking everyone’s progress – games won, best times ran, kilometers cycled, mountain hiked, trails walked, attendance to workout classes, etc.
Frame exercise as a reward. If your kid wants to take a break from homework, he/she will be happy to play catch or kickball for a few minutes. Once physical activity is associated with the reward system, not only will your kid be keen to finish homework to be able to play, he/she will also exercise more.
Let them choose. Allow your kids, and every member of the family to pick which activity they want for the week and promise you’ll do it. You’ll be surprised at the many creative ideas kids have. Tweens and teens are especially more sensitive to what’s in and what’s not. Allowing your kids to choose also means letting them pick the exercise or activity that most appeals to them.
Exercise and fitness are the main foundations for a healthy and active life. Among the most important things parents can do is encourage healthy habits and motivate their children into adapting it early on in life. It is never too late to start.