7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Kids
Reading, writing and arithmetic – but what about running? With school back in session, kids spend most of the day sitting, making it challenging to get the recommended 60 minutes of exercise a day for kids.
Yes, kids have gym class, recess and sports practice – but more than half the time during those activities, kids aren't moving enough for it to be considered exercise. To incorporate more physical activity in your child's day, try to make exercise fun and a part of their routine.
Kid Fitness Benefits
Even if your child is at a healthy weight, there are plenty of reasons why it's important for them to move. Exercise for kids provides many benefits:
- Builds strong bones and muscles
- Improves memory and concentration
- Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Decreases the risk of catching a cold (Exercise is a cold and flu fighter.)
But frequently, sedentary screen time activities – texting, watching YouTube or playing video games – become the default during downtime. How can you get kids to put down the phone and pick up a ball? These tips can help motivate and encourage kids to exercise and be active:
#1: Try Different Exercises For Kids
There are so many different ways to work up a sweat, from sports to dance to playing kickball in the backyard. Switching from one sport or activity to another ups the likelihood that your child will find at least one or two of them enjoyable.
#2: Work Out Together
Instead of a family movie night, try a family bike ride. Doing something active as a family can motivate your child to move more. And there's no need to splurge on gym memberships for the whole gang – you can:
- Go for a bike ride
- Take a walk after dinner
- Shoot hoops at a local park
- Swim at a pool, lake or beach
And if it's cold outside, consider:
- Indoor rock climbing
- Ice or roller skating
- Dance competition video games
#3: Make Exercise Part Of The Routine
Between homework, afterschool activities and dinner time, your day is already stuffed. And now you need to find time to schedule MORE activity? But instead of thinking of physical fitness as another to-do list item, see if you can tweak your current schedule to assign some physical tasks to your child. For example, can they walk the dog or wash the car?
Consider incentivizing your child with an allowance to do chores like yard work and housecleaning. Also, you may want to rethink transportation: Maybe your child can safely walk or bike to school or over to a friend's house instead of getting a ride.
#4: Buy Equipment And Clothing
Sometimes, just having fun stuff around can help get kids off the couch. Keep a collection of items on hand, such as:
- Jump ropes
- Hula hoops
- Mini trampolines
Of course, some activities require the right clothing, too. Snow boots and waterproof gloves are helpful if you want to build a snowman or go sledding. And you'll need a swimsuit and goggles for hitting the pool. Bring your child with you to pick out the clothing and equipment to help build excitement about using them.
#5: Invite A Friend
Everything is more fun with a friend! Doing physical activity with others can make it more enticing. Consider inviting friends for a roller-skating meet up. They can race each other around the rink. Friends also make it possible to play a game of Marco Polo in the pool or soccer at the park.
#6: Give Active Gifts
There's nothing like fresh sneakers or a shiny new bike to spark interest in exercise. Fun, active gifts include:
- Ice skates
- Fitness trackers
- Class passes to things like gymnastics or martial arts
#7: Encourage Kids' Fitness
Positive reinforcement can help motivate a child who's reluctant to try new things or needs to build stamina. Kudos for kids' efforts, both big and small, help them take pride in themselves and what their bodies can do.
Focus on your child's effort and achievement – pushing themselves a little further than the last time. Some kids are naturally athletic. Others, not so much. But everyone can hone their physical skills and fitness over time.
Decrease Screen Time To Increase Activity Levels
Experts agree that kids should spend more time being active and less time on electronic devices. Children and teens spend an average of seven hours a day on screens. Limit that time to two hours or less, and your child may end up with loads of free time to fill with physical activities.
For more information about exercise for kids and ways to keep your child healthy and fit, talk to your pediatrician. Find a doctor today!