How to Get Your Kids to Exercise

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  • 5/22/11
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  • Fitness For Kids
    Childhood obesity rates continue to rise as children consume more fast food and spend more time in front of the television and computer screen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least one hour per day of aerobic activity for children aged 6 to 17. The Centers also recommend that kids perform muscle- and bone-strengthening exercises three times a week. Many children fall short of these exercise goals. Fitness for kids figures as an important issue for many parents, but it is not always easy to devise ways of getting children to increase their activity level. Video games and television present a formidable foe in the battle for your kids’ attention, so come up with an interesting and fun combination of activities to engage them. Once you get the kids on a program of healthy activity, they will feel better and probably continue the activity. Remember to keep the emphasis on fun to compete with the digital entertainment kids have at their fingertips.

    1. Set a good example. Children often take their attitudes toward fitness and physical activity from their parents. Show them the importance you place on your own physical fitness. Make decisions in your everyday life to encourage fitness. Take the stairs. Rake leaves instead of purchasing a leaf blower. Park on the far side of the parking lot.

    2. Take the kids for family walks and bike rides for at least 30 minutes at a time. Talk about issues in their lives, and reap the extra benefit of learning more about your child’s life.

    3. If you have a dog or are planning to get one, encourage the kids to walk and play with the canine member of the family. Walks and exercise in the park are good sources of fitness for kids and more fun when a dog participates.

    4. Make a contract with the child who spends a lot of time with the computer or TV. Every two or three hours of screen time must be balanced with an hour of physical exercise. Stay firm, or you will find the amount of exercise diminishing over time.

    5. Build up a collection of inexpensive play equipment. Make spontaneous play sessions more likely by laying in an assortment of soccer balls, baseballs and mitts, jump ropes, kites and Frisbees. Encourage fitness for kids by playing catch with them or flying a kite together. When you are shopping for a birthday present, look for one that encourages physical activity.

    6. Sign up your team sport-oriented child for baseball, softball or soccer. Encourage kids who dislike team sports to get into martial arts, rollerblading or swimming. Give them lots of positive reinforcement for their participation. Remember that the goal is exercise, not winning trophies.

    7. Ensure that your child’s chores include a physical component, such as raking leaves, cleaning up the yard or mowing the lawn.

    8. If you work out at an exercise facility, bring your child with you. Kids will come to regard working out as part of a normal routine and incorporate these programs into their own lives as they get older.

    9. Praise your kids when they make an effort to get more fit. Never use exercise as a punishment. Present it as something fun and a vital component of a healthy lifestyle.


    1.  How do you get your kids to exercise?

    2.  Have any of these tips worked for you?

    Image Credit: Axel B├╝hrmann's
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