Any expert will tell you that developing good habits early on is the key to maintaining these habits throughout adulthood. Because of this, many parents are eager to get their kids excited about fitness. In this day and age, it is all too easy for kids to spend their time sitting in front of a TV or computer. Instead of playing outside with their friends, they are inside playing video games together.
This shift means that it is even more important for parents to ensure that their children are getting the exercise they need. If your kids are into sports, they have a built in source of exercise. If they are not into sports, you will have to be more creative when encouraging them to exercise. Try out some of these strategies to help your kids get excited about fitness.
Way to Get Fit #1: Find a class he or she enjoys.
Many kids do not enjoy traditional sports, but that does not mean that there is not a physical activity out there that is fun for your child. Sign them up for a few classes that explore less traditional activities.
Many kids that hate soccer or basketball might love something like swimming, dancing, or rock climbing. Your local community center can be a great source of inspiration. Pick up a brochure and see what they have to offer. Many community centers have short introductory classes in dozens of different activities. These types of classes often last 6-8 weeks and can be a great way for your child to dip their toes into a new activity without a long term commitment.
If your child does not enjoy an activity after a 6 week trial period, move onto something else. This system of trial and error is normal for many kids and your child will learn more about what they do and do not like along the way.
Way to Get Fit #2: Play together as a family.
While your child might not enjoy an organized baseball team or a basketball league, they might enjoy playing catch outside with their parents. Prioritizing exercise as a family can be fun for everyone involved. Anything that makes exercise seem like a game instead of a chore will help encourage your children to engage in more physical activities in the future.
Way to Get Fit #3: Encourage your kids during physical activity.
If your kids have been living a relatively sedentary life, there might be a transition period where they will struggle to keep up with the other kids. Some of the other children in their class have probably been involved in physical activity their whole life, meaning that your child might struggle to do some of the things that other kids can do easily. Keep your child focused on their own progress and celebrate individual achievements without comparing them to their friends or classmates.
Way to Get Fit #4: Limit screen time.
Putting a limit on recreational screen time can be a great way to encourage kids to get up and get moving. Banning video games entirely can backfire in the future, but setting a reasonable limit can help your kids learn to lead a balanced life.
Many families have found success in limiting screen time to 2 hours each day. Once the time is up, kids have to find something else to occupy their time. Make sure that if you employ this strategy, your kids have plenty of alternative activities available to them. You do not want your kids sitting around the house bored, wishing they could watch a movie. Plan a trip to the park, take the dog for a walk, or send them outside to play with their friends when possible.
Way to Get Fit #5: Get their friends involved.
Most children love to hang out and play with their friends, so any activity that involves their friends is a win. Plan a bike ride with friends or talk to other parents about signing the kids up for a class together. Bringing a friend along can be a great way to make physical activity even more fun and many parents will jump at the chance for their kids to get some extra exercise, particularly if they do not have to plan the activity.
The bottom line is, the best way to get your kids excited about exercise is to find an activity that they enjoy. Whether they exercise alone, with friends, or with family, the key is to find something that they will stick with long term. Check out our other exercise blog posts to get ideas for exercising alone or as a family.