We know staying active is part of a healthy life. Regular activity can help you sleep better, maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress. So why is it so hard to build good exercise habits?
The habit of staying active often starts in childhood. Without a strong foundation, it’s hard to prioritize an active lifestyle as an adult. If you help your child stay active regularly, it can help them build strong muscles and bones, stay mentally healthy, and decrease their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Regular activity is also a great way to bond with your child through playful competition.
Make Exercise Fun
You and your family can have fun and be active at the same time. Kicking a soccer ball or throwing a baseball aren’t the only ways to get moving. Listen to your child as they express their level of interest in different activities. If they’d rather do a “Ninja Warrior” style obstacle course than play a team sport, encourage them to pursue it.
Even when they choose an activity they enjoy, don’t put too much pressure on them to excel and become a prodigy – let the focus be fun and exercise.
Create an Exercise Plan
Make a weekly exercise goal with your family. If this is the first time that you’re trying to be active, avoid setting unrealistic goals. This will deter you and your family and make it harder to stick to a plan. For example, consider starting with a family walk or easy bike ride instead of running.
When you are exercising, listen to your child’s needs. Take a break if they need water, a rest or simply don’t want to play anymore. They’ll have more fun next time if you don’t push them past their limits this time.
Be a Good Example of Healthy Lifestyles
Parents are often a child’s first role models. If you want your child to live a healthier and more active life, it helps to be a good example. Approach your activity plan with a good attitude. Your child will feed off your energy. If you’re having fun, there’s a better chance that they will have fun too.
Exercise as a Family
Exercising as a family can help make staying active fun. If you or your partner are passionate about a sport, then that’s a great place to start. Grab the ball, bat, glove – whatever it is – and spend some time teaching your child the basics. They will learn a new skill and spend valuable bonding time with you.
If you and your family aren’t sports fanatics, there are still plenty of ways to be active.
Go for walks/walk the dog
- If you have a dog, then exercise should be easy. Take your children with you when you take the dog for daily walks. If you don’t have a dog, taking a family walk is still a great and easy way to exercise. Block off time in the day when everyone is free and take a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood. If 20 minutes is a lot, start off slow with a 10-minute walk. You can make it a family competition and try to add 5 minutes to that walk each week and see how far you can go as a family.
Have a dance party
- Clear some floor space, get some fun lights or decorations, and have a dance party! Create a Spotify playlist of kid friendly songs to dance to or turn on the radio. Dancing is great cardio and a great way to relieve stress. If you want to follow along to some dance moves, there are great YouTube videos that feature family-friendly dance cardio workouts.
- If you have the space in your front or back yard, gardening can be a lot of fun. You may not even realize you’re getting a workout! Gardening is a great full-body exercise and with just 30 minutes of gardening you’ll workout your arms, legs and back. Go to the store with your kids and let them pick out a few flowers to plant. This will include them in the process and can get them excited to participate.
Go to the park
- The park is full of endless possibilities. Play tag, hide-and-go-seek, or create a scavenger hunt. Make some sandwiches or snacks for break time and bring plenty of water.
Exercising doesn’t have to be tedious. Make a plan. Make it kid-friendly. Make it fun.
For an easy way to be active with your kids, sign up for our newsletter and view our Wellness Wednesday Webinars. We often have Zumba, Yoga, How to Grow Your Own Garden and more!