How To Get Your Kids To Love Exercise
Is it a struggle to get your kids off the couch? Are they addicted to their screens and view playing outside as a punishment? Then perhaps you should read on for our tips on how to get your kids to love exercise!
If you track your screen time, you know how many hours a day you can spend working, scrolling and texting. It’s addicting in part because dopamine is released, the neurotransmitter responsible for your body’s pleasure and reward systems. But that feel-good hormone is also released during physical exercise!
It’s time for everyone to put down the devices and start moving. Let’s get the kids falling in love with exercise for the health of your whole family.
Make It Fun
The easiest way to get your kids to love exercise is to make it fun and tailor it to your child. Does your little one prefer structured sports, or are they creative and prefer to make it up as they go? Would they rather have solo playtime or run around in a group? Increase the fun level with a mysterious scavenger hunt or impromptu living room dance party. Try a few different activities to see what they like best. If they enjoy what they’re doing, it’s going to be a lot easier to get them up and moving around.
Embrace your child’s unique idea of fun. They might delight at the idea of making lightsabers and playing Star Wars, creating their version of a Harry Potter quidditch match, or making Lego cars to race down the driveway. A child’s imagination knows no bounds. Let them play.
Pro tip: Make it about games vs workouts, i.e. they have to run away from the ‘monster’ (aka you) vs running wind sprints. Who wants to run wind sprints anyways?
Start A Competition
If your kid loves competing against you, their siblings or a friend, lean into that. See who can hula hoop the longest, sink the most baskets or reach 10 points in the bean bag toss the fastest. Get a friendly competition going, and the winner gets to pick the next exercise.
Don’t overdo it if it’s an exercise or sport they aren’t totally in love with yet. Ease into it; it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Teach them how to play catch before you sign them up for a sports league.
As you’ve learned with getting your child dressed for school, providing options goes a long way. Do you want to wear blue jeans or a princess skirt? Do you want to draw chalk hopscotch on the sidewalk or climb the jungle gym at the park? Who wants to do something they are forced into; empower their ability to choose.
Add it to the daily routine
Adding activity to your daily routine will benefit the whole family and significantly increase your fitness level. Walk or bike the kids to school, go to the park after dinner and centre your weekend around exercise, such as a family hike or trip to the community pool.
Pro tip: Get them involved in your fitness regime. Hello, kettlebell swings!
Be A Role Model
Being a role model for your kids might be just the motivation you need to stay consistent with your workouts. Take advantage of it! Model for your children what it means to take care of yourself, be responsible and do what makes you feel best by working out regularly. Moms, it’s ok to make your health a priority.
Praise Effort Over Outcome
Encourage your kids so they feel confident and competent; exercise can be a great self-esteem booster! Praise the effort, not the outcome, i.e. congratulate them on hitting the ball as hard as they could vs getting a home run. Learning a new skill through activity can be empowering and motivating, and even if they are tentative at first, they might start to feel good about themselves, want to keep going and try other new things. Be body positive – exercise at all life stages and sizes. There is an activity out there for every body.
Supercharge the benefits of exercise by being outside in nature. Here are some ways to explore and create outdoors:
- Collect rocks for painting
- Go on a nature scavenger hunt, i.e. use plant identification guides appropriate for kids
- Have a backyard campout, set up the tent or blanket fort and tell campfire stories
- Create an obstacle course using all the backyard toys
Being out in nature encourages kids to play differently and discover new interests.
Build wholesome, life-long habits today by encouraging your kids to love exercise. What is good for the body benefits the mind and soul. They will be happier and healthier, making your parenting job that much sweeter.
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