Trying to get physically unmotivated children to exercise can be a real challenge. We have come up with some exciting tips and methods for helping our children to put some fun in their days while maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle.
Now more than ever, it’s important to make fitness a priority for kids. Youth obesity has grown by 50% in the last 15 years in Canada, according to Health Canada, and health-related problems due to inactivity are on the rise.
Following are some ways to inspire kids to exercise and engage them so they want to get fit and stay healthy—and have fun while doing it!
1. Get creative.
Find fun activities that are more of a game and less of a chore. Hide-and-seek or capture the flag are as fun as they are active. You can race one another to the top of the sledding hill, play a game of kickball, or take a beginner’s lesson at a rock-climbing gym.
2. Make it a challenge
Use technology to your advantage by tracking daily activity and showing real improvements in overall fitness levels. Check out these highly rated iOS fitness apps and a top-ten list of Android fintess apps. For best results: do it as a family!
3. Consider what your child loves to do.
And support your child’s choice of activity. Make a dance video, plan an active outing with your child’s friends, bounce at a trampoline park, play motion-controlled video games. Better yet, ask them what they’d like to do or try!
4. Limit non-active leisure time.
Kids are sedentary so much of their day at school, while doing homework, or shuttling back and forth in the car that it’s important to limit non-active leisure time spent watching TV, texting or playing video games, and even excessive time spent reading, for those extreme bookworms!
Physical activity guidelines for children from the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) are as follows:
Minimum physical activity:
ages 1–4: 180 minutes/day
ages 5–17: 60 minutes/day*
*moderate intensity (bike riding, skating) and vigorous intensity (running and swimming) exercise
Maximum screen time:
ages 1–2: none
ages 2–4: ages 5–17:
Read the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for children and adults.
5. Don’t use exercise as punishment.
The goal is to make fitness an integral part of everyday life for kids as they grow, and the best way to do that is to motivate them and reward them, so they choose physical activity. Punishing kids with exercise can have just the opposite effect—it can turn them off from physical activity altogether and make it an eternal struggle to get them moving.
6. Reward with something positive and inspiring.
My 12-year-old claims that “money, free food, or good prizes do the trick!” We love this age-appropriate list of child reward suggestions from the Child Development Institute. Some favourites: time off from chores, choosing a menu for a family meal, staying up late, having friends over.
7. Lead by example.
Kids learn most things by osmosis. Aim to include physical activity into your own daily routine. Read these excellent workout tips for busy parents.
8. Keep it positive.
Encourage your kids as they try new things or make an effort to get moving. It’s important to remain positive about your own exercise, too. For example, you might say, “I feel so energized after I exercise!” rather than “Ugh! I’ve got to work out this morning.”
9. Encourage some type of activity every day.
When physical activity is a consistent part of your daily routine, it quickly becomes the norm, ensuring that as kids grow into their teen years and adulthood, exercise is second nature for them.
Remember, it’s all about making fitness a seamless part of all of our daily lives—the more you move, the better we improve!
After more than 20 years in the financial industry, Tammy Mercier, a mother of two teenage daughters, wanted to give back to her community. As a competitive marathon runner, becoming Director of Fund Development for the Lung Association of Nova Scotia seemed like a natural fit. “Because when you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.”
Learn more about the Annual Credit Union Atlantic Lung Run.
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