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Getting your sedentary children moving

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

The family that exercises together

Sometimes resolutions for fitness in a new year aren’t just personal goals. Sometimes it’s a goal for your whole family. If your family has gotten into a sit-in-front-of-screen-and-not-being-active rut, there’s no time like the new year to do something about it. You can get even your most Wii-attached child exercising and making healthy choices in this new year.

mom running with kids

Video games and the Internet are so much fun! Not to mention somewhat addicting. It can be too easy to let too much time go by without exercise -- there's always one more score to beat or site to surf. Before you know it, your family needs a fitness makeover! Time get the kids off the couch and exercising.

Set Clear expectations

Although you may have to put up with some moans and groans in the process, have an honest conversation with your kids about the fitness goals you have for the family and why you have set these goals. Whether your reasons are general fitness and long term health or there has been a precipitating event for you or a family member, talk about why you want a more fit lifestyle to be your family's lifestyle. It's hard to argue (though they will try!) when your reasons are so altruistic.

Collaborate on a plan

As resistant as your video game-loving kids may be to a family exercise plan, they need to have some kind of buy in. Make every effort to invite collaboration on when and how the exercise happens: ask what they'd like to do and try to incorporate that into a greater family plan. Set goals for exercise over the course of weeks and months. Set similar guidelines for turning off the television after a certain amount of time.

Depending on your child's age and temperament, you may have to engage in some negotiation -- but then again, with some kids you may just need to play the parent card. In this case, mother definitely knows best.

Lead by example

You can't expect your kids to lead an active life if you don't. You must lead by example. "Do as I say, not as I do" will not cut it.

Let your kids see you choosing to turn off the video games and computer screens and getting on the exercise equipment! Let them see you making the healthier choices. Let them know by your actions that you are committed to a healthier life!

Do it together

All that said, the best way of all to get your whole family fit in the new year is to do it together. Bike rides, walks, hikes and playing soccer in the park are all ways to be active together. Commit to taking surfing lessons together or head to the indoor climbing gym for Mother's Day instead of going out for brunch. Create a family goal of one active outing per week.

It won't happen instantaneously, and it likely won't happen in just a month or two, but you can have a healthier family this new year. Commit to a few simple steps -- and be consistent -- and you'll have the whole family up and active and not missing the video games at all.

Read more about kids and exercise


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