With gaming systems, smartphones, television, laptops, iPads and the like available to kids these days, getting them up and working up a sweat is harder than ever before. But it is not an impossible mission. Here are some ways to get them exercising (they may not even realize they're getting their physical activity for the day!).
Use a family challenge to stir up excitement in your child about being active. Invest in a pedometer for each member of the family, and create a prize for each challenge. Whoever takes the most steps over the course of a week wins. The winner might get to choose what to have for dinner, for example, or perhaps what movie to watch on movie night.
Your child learns appreciation for exercise from you, so you need to lead by example. This means you have to demonstrate that you value exercise and make it an important part of your life. If your child sees how diligently you've been training to run a marathon or how regularly you go to the gym, they'll get the message that fitness is an important part of healthy living and will want to make exercise part of their life too.
Take your kids to museums, parks and amusement centres — all activities that call for a lot of walking to participate and take in the sights and activities. A day at the beach can include walking, swimming, tossing a Frisbee and a whole lot of other activities. An afternoon of laser tag calls for much dashing and sprinting about. Build exercise into a family ritual — have the entire family take the dog for a walk after dinner, for example.
Plan for play dates where your kids will be forced to find something active to do. Realize, however, that you may have to ban gaming and television to get them outside in the first place.
If your kids love surfing the net or playing video games, establish a clear rule that for every hour spent playing games or sitting in front of the computer, they have to do something physical for the same length of time (or longer). Chances are, the more they ride their bikes or shoot some hoops, the more they'll come to enjoy it and want to do it.
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