Exercise for kids, and exercise in general, is not a new topic. With all the childhood obesity statistics soaring, it is no surprise that people are looking for more ways to incorporate exercise into their own lives and the lives of their kids. Whether it is parking further away in the parking lot at the grocery store, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or joining a gym or fitness club, there are many things adults can choose to do every day that can add more physical activity to a daily routine, but what about exercise for kids? It used to be that kids got plenty of exercise just in their regular play. Between activity at school, jumping on the trampoline in the back yard, rollerblading or biking to the neighborhood park to play basketball or whatever the game of choice was, kids were very active!
Things have changed. Unless a child is signed up for a sports team, they may not be getting the daily exercise they need to be healthy. Computer games, television, mobile devices, and other sedentary activities have taken a hold of the majority of free time that children have today. Even P.E. classes at school do not require the same level of activity and fitness that use to be required. The biggest difference that is going to be made in regards to exercise for kids will have to take place at home. Parents have to take an active interest in what their kids are doing and come up with a solid plan, that kids will agree to and stick to, to increase the amount of exercise kids get.
Using a parent contract is an excellent way to make sure that the kids are on board with the plan and that they are committed to it. Having some kind of a reward system can be great incentive. Just be sure to have appropriate awards. If the reward for 100 hours of physical activity is a new gaming console, it is not very likely that this will be a permanent lifestyle change. If the reward is a new pair of roller blades, a new bike, or something that will continue to promote physical activity, all the better!! A key to exercise for kids is for it to be fun. Exercise does not have to be a dreaded word that means pain and exhaustion. Exercise is actually a natural high, endorphins are released during exercise that makes a person feel happy.
Check for activities in your local community that will allow family members to try different types of exercise. There are often free clubs or groups that will go on a weekly hike, play weekly ballgames, or do regular activities that can be very fun and can involve the whole family. Checking local thrift stores can result in great bargains on things like in line skates, bikes, and other sporting equipment. Just because your kid does not like the first activity they try doesn’t mean that you should give up. Keep trying until you find something they enjoy. Maybe it is swimming, maybe it is just a walk around the neighborhood in the evening so that they can tell you about their day. Whatever you decide, make a plan about how often and how long the exercise should last. Come up with the parent contract together so that each person is committed and then keep a daily log to see the progress you are making.
As with most things that you want your kids to do, if you will do it with them they will be happy to do it. They will be much more successful in doing it and the long term effects will be greater than you ever could have imagined. Not only will you all be more healthy, you will have developed a relationship that is never ending. Taking the time to talk to your kids every day is an essential part of parenting. If you can exercise while you do it, even better!!