Oftentimes, when we think about exercise (and the people that need to do it), it’s adults that come to mind. But when you think about the purpose behind physical activity such as staying in shape and building up the immune system, why should it just be limited to only those ages 18 and up? Exercise is especially vital to children during their development years as their bones are getting stronger and their muscles are developing; yet, if you tried and convince them to join an aerobics class with you, you’d probably get a reaction from them similar to the one that comes across their face when they find their least favorite vegetable on the dinner plate.
So how can you get your kids to enjoy exercise? Here are some ways to do just that:
Find out their favorite things
We all know that sports are one of the best ways to get a good amount of exercise whether it’s baseball or basketball, swimming or gymnastics. When kids feel like they are doing something that they want to do rather than something that they have to do, there’s a far greater chance that they’ll involve themselves in that activity on a regular basis. Therefore, take out some time and ask them what their favorite sports are and once you’ve narrowed it down, either sign them up for a little league, get them involved in some sort of after-school or summer program or even teach them a trick or two in the back yard.
Play some active games
The cool thing about a lot of childhood games is that many of them are filled with ways to get the heart pumping and oxygen flowing. Classic games like “Duck, Duck, Goose” involve stretching, bending over and running. A couple of rounds of “Hide-N-Seek” outside requires lots of swift movement while looking for people in various hidden places. If you have a couple of wheelbarrows or potato sacks, kids can get tons of upper arm and leg strengthening, while dodge ball and kick ball encourage hand/eye coordination as one moves their entire body in the attempts of avoiding being hit (tagged) by the ball.
Incorporate as many people as possible
Some of us remember growing up and hearing our mother simply telling us to “Go outside and play”. But if there was no one to play with, sometimes that translated into a punishment similar to “Go to your room.” Another way to get (and keep) children interested in exercise is to make it a game that everyone can play. At least a couple of days a week, set aside an hour or two to play tag or to make up a game out of catch. Two activities that are also becoming very popular are Zuma Deluxe and Match 3 Games, both of which “the more the merrier” definitely applies. And, if you have infant or toddler-aged children, why not get them started young by incorporating routine “play dates” between them and either some neighborhood children or some within one of your parenting support groups? Before you know it, exercise will be so much a part of your children’s lifestyle, that it will difficult for even you to keep up!