Families that know how to turn movement into fun raise kids who enjoy exercise. What adults call “workouts,” kids call play. Follow these easy tips to build a culture of fitness-play in your family.
Designate specific “dark” times for TV and computer. When you take away screens, kids will often find active ways to entertain themselves. Take your own advice – if you ALL agree to leave the electronics behind, your kids will enjoy spending time with you and begin to associate exercise with togetherness.
Turn household chores into fun family activities. For example, have the whole family wash the car, taking a break to play a game of tag. When you need to water the lawn, let everyone run through the sprinklers. Time to rake the leaves? Make a pile to jump in! You will need to re-create the pile in-between, which adds in more activity. Bring a stopwatch and see who can rake leaves the fastest.
Get a pet (or borrow one.) A dog is a live-in playmate that never gets tired of walking or chasing the ball. If you can’t have your own, maybe you have a neighbor who would welcome an extra playmate for his pet.
Keep music playing in your home and car. Music encourages movement, which can turn into fun and play. Try a family dance contest where family members vote on the best moves, or have a dance party from a certain era like the ‘80s.
Learn a new sport together. You will all be starting at the same point and no one is considered “better” than anyone else. Martial arts, dance or ladder golf could be a good place to start.
Always have toys with you. Keep balls and Frisbees in the car for when you have a few extra minutes or are waiting in line. See how many times you can catch the ball without dropping it, or throw the ball and spin around before your partner throws the ball back.
Sneak in exercise everywhere. Park way out in the grocery store lot or a few blocks away for school pickup. On your walk back, have fun skipping, playing follow the leader, singing marching songs (left, left, left, right, left…) or running in a “daisy chain” where the person in the back runs to the front every 10 steps.