Children seem to have a never-ending supply of energy, but are they using it up each day? Here are some great ways to encourage young kids to pack some healthy movement and exercise into their day. There are many activities that the whole family can benefit from and that can help kids exercise.
1. Parking further away
When dropping your kids off for school or picking them up, park about 5/10 minutes walk away. That way you can walk and talk on the way to and from school, adding 50/100 extra minutes of movement every week. As a bonus, your kids will have wonderful conversations and start the day with some fresh air.
2. Turning up the music
When cooking dinner at night, gather the kids around in the kitchen to chat and do their homework. Once that’s done, turn up the dance tunes and have a dance around the kitchen for at least a song or two every evening. You could also dance while clearing and setting the table for dinner, feeding the pets or taking the bins out.
3. Turn things into a game to help kids exercise
When out walking somewhere challenge your kids to see who can race up that next hill first, or who can hop all the way to the corner, or how many cartwheels can you do in the back yard before you get tired? Or try ideas such as "let's skip together to the next corner", or "let's do handstands together". Either way works, and you'll be getting a workout too.
4. Include kids in household activities
Many household chores, like washing the dog or the car, mowing the lawn, sweeping the driveway or raking the leaves are great opportunities to sneak in a little physical activity.
Turn everyday jobs into something a bit more enticing, try turning folding the laundry into a guessing game. Pick out an item of clothing and ask 'Guess whose this is?'" When the child has correctly identified the clothing, they help fold them, and older kids can even pop them away in their cupboard.
Some parents include a monetary incentive for helping around the house, doing chores like vacuuming, dusting, cleaning bathrooms and mirrors, hanging out washing, whatever works for your family, – it all adds up to extra activity and less screen time.
The best thing about starting to get active with chores is that once they're up and moving, they will often stay that way, activity leads to activity, and sometimes all they need is a gentle push.
5. Be a role model
Set the example when it comes to being more active. Your children watch everything you do and copy your habits, be they good or bad. If your kids see you being physically active and having fun, they’re more likely want to join in, be active and stay more active throughout their lives.
6. Involve the whole family
Invite everyone to participate in activities. A great way to change up your kid’s exercise habits is get involved with their sports, can you volunteer to coach a soccer team and encourage your kids to play? How about joining an outdoor adventure, swimming, canoeing, dancing or running club, or take a ball or flying disk when your family goes out for recreation.
7. Focus on fun
It’s no secret, kids like to have fun, so they’re more likely to keep exercising if they’re doing an activity they enjoy. Make a game of it, let them laugh and move, which is great for mental and emotional well being too. Turn on music and have a backyard singing/dance party, or pack in lots of walking during trips to the shops, park or miniature golf course.
8. Make activity social
Invite your kids' friends to join the activity, plan a neighborhood hike to playground, a bike ride, a basketball match or a friendly kick to kick on the oval. In summer take advantage of swimming at a pool or water park and pack some healthy snacks or a picnic lunch.
9. Use competition as a motivator
Make it a contest between you and the kids to see who can run faster, jump higher, or do more push-ups or jumping jacks. Give the winner a prize. And, use technology such as a pedometer to track your results and progress.
10. Give gifts that promote physical activity
Rollerblades, a trampoline, a sandpit, water tables, bicycles, a cricket set, scooters, a footy or soccer balls and even active-play video games make great gifts that promote physical activity.
11. Limit TV and computer time
Offer them active options, like joining a local recreation center or after-school/school holiday program, or taking lessons in a sport/activity they enjoy. Even a playdate once a week with different friends will help create healthy habits.
12. Turn TV commercials into fitness breaks
When watching a TV show as with little kids, create silly names for simple exercises like squats, lunges, and sit-ups, and then do them together till the show comes back on. "Call them Upsy Daisy squats or Paw Patrol muscle builders. You can also play "coach," in which you take turns "ordering" each other to do short exercises. Another idea is play "follow the leader," in which one person leads the others in fun, simple moves like clapping, wiggling, and marching.
ey’re doing an activity they enjoy. Make a game of it, let them laugh and move, which is great for mental and emotional well being too. Turn on music and have a backyard singing/dance party, or pack in lots of walking during trips to the shops, park or miniature golf course.
13. Plan holidays with activity in mind
For older kids, plan your family holiday around an activity or two. Think hiking, cycling/scooting, kayaking, flying a kite or surfing. You’ll get to explore new places and teach your kids to appreciate nature. Plus, the activities and new skills you try on holiday might even become the hobbies your family enjoys for years to come.
14. Crank up the music and boogie down
Hold a disco night with your kids. Think ‘Happy Hour’ on a Friday night, milkshakes and healthy snacks, move the furniture to one side, find a Spotify or Youtube play list with dance tunes, string up some fairy lights or glow sticks and let the kids take turns using a torch as a strobe light.
15. Go for pre- or post-dinner walks
Pop your walking shoes on and head into town for dessert or just cruise the neighbourhood, building a walk into your daily schedule ensures that it won't get put off. It’s a great time to unwind and check in with everyone to see how their day was.
16. Have a weekly family night
Every Wednesday, for example, get everyone up and moving. One game to play is the fit-deck shuffle. What is is? From their site..FitDeck does the thinking for you. Just shuffle, draw, and go. FitDeck Junior is a 56-card FitDeck that contains illustrations and instructions describing 50 different upper, middle, and lower body exercises for kids. FitDeck Junior is a bodyweight-only deck that does not require any equipment.
17. Walk or run for charity
Check out what fun runs are happening soon in your you local area and model the value of exercise—with the added bonus of giving back too—by teaming up with your children for a fundraising race.
18. Put kids to work in the yard
If autumn brings down leaves in your backyard, make a game out of catching them on a windy day. See who can catch the most yellow, orange, or red ones, Then rake them into piles. Have fun jumping in them, or take turns completely covering one another in leaves.
19. Team up for gardening
Kids are great at digging up dirt, so let them turn over the soil and help you plant new plants. Research shows that gardening is good for you in loads of different ways andif you're planting vegetables, it’s a great way to get them involved in talking about being healthy all over inside and out.
20. Walk the dog
Grab your dog and head head out to the park, beach or bike track. Don't have a pooch? Borrow your neighbours, relatives or fiends who maybe hasn't got the time to take their animal for walk. Or you could go “Dog Spotting” go for a walk after dinner and make it a game to count as many dogs out walking as you can see, bonus points for obedient dogs enjoying their walk.