With so much technology entertaining the world today - computers, televisions, video games and smart phones, children are less physically active at both school and home. With childhood obesity rates on the rise
, encouraging children to get active is crucial in fighting this epidemic. Check out these 10 Tips to Make Exercise Fun for Children
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1. Participate in the fun! The best ways to motivate your kids are to take part in physical activities with them. Not only are you setting a great example and peaking their interest in being active, but you are helping yourself stay fit, also.
2. Choose things they love and find a way to make them physical. For example, if your child loves superheroes, create an obstacle course with a “hero” moment, such as reaching the end of the course in a certain amount of time to “save the city from a monster.” The activity doesn’t need to be complex, but allowing your child to relate to the exercise will make them more excited to participate.
3. Integrate exercise into your family’s everyday lifestyle. Find ways to integrate exercise, such as taking the dog for a walk every night after dinner or biking to school together each morning.
4. Play something. Use the word “play” in front of the activities to make them sound less like exercise and more like a fun game. Invite neighborhood friends over to add some socialization and competition to the activity.
5. Mix things up! Introducing fun new activities to your children will keep them excited about being physical. If an old idea no longer motivates your kids, introduce something new to keep their interest sparked.
6. Do an activity or challenge together or even sign up to do a fun run or charity walk with your children. Having an end goal will get them excited about working toward the big day.
7. Support your children in sports, clubs and other activities that interest them. Even if your child isn’t the star player, your presence at the event lets him or her know you support them and encourages him/her to stick with it. As tempting as it may be, avoid rewarding a good game with food. Instead, recognize their accomplishments with something like new sneakers, a movie night with you or extra time with friends.
8. Think outside the field. Not all children enjoy organized sports like football or softball. Be patient and encourage them to try out other activities they might enjoy, such as rock climbing, dance or martial arts, until they find the right fit.
9. Get kids connected with nature. Unplug by planting a tree, starting a garden or checking out nearby parks. Before you go, visit the National Parks website to let kids choose where you go and what activity you will do once you get there. By letting them guide the trip, they will be more willing to engage.
10. Find ways to be active indoors. On the days when it is too rainy or hot to play outdoors, plan indoor activities such as bowling or laser tag. You can also try out video games that get kids on their feet, such as Wii Fit.
Additional Health Tips
In addition to integrating these ten tips, limiting “screen time” and setting an example will help ensure your children are getting exercise necessary for healthy development. Kids learn by example, so serve as a role model and be vocal in your efforts, as this will show children how much you enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
Working with UnityPoint Clinics to Keep Kids on Track
If you have concerns about your child’s weight or body mass index (BMI), talk with his/her doctor about diet and exercise habits. Treatment for child and adolescent obesity depends on preexisting health conditions, but may include a multidisciplinary team including your family doctor, counselor or physical therapist and dietitian. If you do not have an established family doctor or pediatrician, use our Find a Doctor tool
to locate a physician in your area.