If you don’t exercise, it can be hard for your kids to be all that into it either. After all, they imitate you from the practically the moment you bring them home — they learn how to smile, how to talk and how to act from their parents. Unfortunately, as many parents know all too well, they also pick up on our bad habits, which can include a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise. If you’re like me, and not all that into exercising (or have health reasons that limit your ability to exercise), how do you get your kids to pick it up?
We spoke with a few experts to get some tips on how to get your kids moving this summer and the rest of the year as well.
Enroll them in sports
One way to get your kids to exercise is to be a little bit sneaky, but we don’t really mean that you need to lie to them. Instead, sign them up for a sport, like soccer, martial arts, gymnastics or basketball, Franklin Antoian, personal trainer and founder iBodyFit, tells SheKnows.
“Your kid will have fun and get plenty of exercise during practice and games,” he says. In addition to regular bouts of running around, your child will also benefit from learning how to be a good teammate and can develop new friendships.
Get the whole family involved
Also, you don’t need to model actual workout behavior (such as lifting weights or running on a treadmill) to get your child to exercise, he notes. There are tons of family-centered activities that are plenty of fun, and they also have the added benefits of exercise.
“Go hiking, biking and swimming with your child,” he explains. He says that they’re all fantastic forms of cardio, but you’re having so much fun, you don’t realize you’re getting a good workout.
Take a walk
Also, consider methods of exercise that aren’t necessarily traditional. “It can be hard to get into a routine of exercising, especially if you do not enjoy the traditional routes of exercising, such as going for a run or going to the gym,” Dr. Alex Tauberg, sports chiropractor and certified strength and conditioning specialist, tells SheKnows.
He explains that exercise can be any activity that gets your heart rate up for at least 20 minutes. Neighborhood walks are an excellent way to get your heart pumping, and kids love going out and about. Walk around for a half hour, and guess what? Both you — and your kids — have exercised.
Encourage your kids to exercise — the right way
It’s not just a matter of simply telling your kids that exercise is good for you, Dr. Gina Posner, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells SheKnows.
For starters, she says it’s vital that parents don’t let on that they hate exercise. Instead, she has a few other recommendations.
“Encourage them by telling them how proud you are of them when they are exercising,” she explains. “Children are influenced by telling them about the benefits they will gain in their everyday lives. For example, if they exercise, they will be able to run faster and jump higher. They most likely will not be convinced to exercise by telling them that it helps their blood pressures, cholesterol and weight.”
It’s all in how you talk about it
While it’s not quite as easy as directing your kids to get moving while you’re on the couch, getting involved and moving around yourself, if you’re able, will help your child, even if you’re not hitting the weights or going for a run every day. And keep those positive words and encouragements coming, especially if exercise is hard for you due to health problems. Paint exercise in a positive light, and your kids may be keener to try something new.