Are Your Kids and Grandkids Getting Enough Exercise?
Kids spend a big part of the day sitting doing school. Even if your child participates in sports, they may not be spending enough time moving. But don’t worry, you don’t have to add another sport to your already busy schedule. There are simple strategies for squeezing in more fitness time.
- Lift weights. You’ve probably heard that lifting weights is for kids in their late teens only, and if you’ve seen any videos of kids who have taken fitness to extremes, you probably believe that’s good advice. But just as weight training is vitally important for adult fitness, lifting light weights in a controlled manner is important for kids. Strong Kids, Healthy Kids presents evidence that slow weight training is particularly suited to children because the light weights and repetitions avoid injury. What’s even better for busy parents is that slow weight training gets results in less workout time than traditional exercise. Using forms to track kids’ progress is especially motivating for them.
- Do pushups. While I’m tempted to add other superb exercises like squats and sit-ups to this list, pushups alone are a fantastic form of exercise. They strengthen the entire upper body and the core. One way my husband has motivated our kids to stay fit doing pushups is to pay them for doing a certain number of pushups a day for a month. Of course, you wouldn’t want to use this strategy for life (you could go broke quickly!), but offering a reward is a great way to jump start your kids’ interest in fitness. Once they’ve gotten good at pushups, have them move up to doing burpees.
- Use a kids’ video. I’ve tried out a number of kids’ videos, and I really like Kick to Get Fit for Kids. It’s very instructional and what kid doesn’t like to kick? Some kids like to kick too much (like my son in the video who kept “accidentally” kicking his sister), so make sure you allow plenty of room. I like to have the kids workout with this during our mid-morning break if the weather isn’t cooperating.
- Make it routine. One of my friends has her kids run a pre-planned circuit through the neighborhood each morning and keeps track of their time. I like to have the kids use the trampoline or play outdoor games during our mid-morning recess. The key is doing a little exercise on a regular basis.
- Take up a family sport. Having one child play soccer while the family watches from the sidelines isn’t a family sport, despite the fact that team sports are rewarding in other ways. Playing a sport or enjoying an exercise activity together is not only wonderful for your child’s fitness, but builds family closeness. Our family loves tennis, bike riding, and hiking. There are so many options! If you aren’t sure what to do, make it a family project to try lots of activities until you find the one that works.
- Play fitness games together. I mentioned in a post on getting your child’s screen time under control that we originally bought the kids a Wii thinking that it would keep the kids active. Unfortunately, the inactive games soon became more popular. But we’ve noticed that if Mom or Dad or aunts or grandparents will play with our kids, they love the active games again. Dance games can really be a lot of fun (kids love it when we make fools of ourselves) and what’s better is that you’ll get more exercise, too. You know you need it! We all do.
How do you get your kids to spend more time exercising?