Between video games, TV and the Internet, today’s parents may feel like the chips are stacked against them when trying to get their kids off the couch and moving. Kids need to be active to be healthy and to develop both physically and mentally. Fitness experts and parents share their top tips on raising healthy, active kids.
“Turn off televisions and computers and, yes, even take their cell phones! It’s amazing what kids can find to do when they aren’t plugged in,” says author and mom of five, Teresa Bell Kindred.
“They may need help in learning ‘how to play,’ so get out in the yard with them. Take an egg timer with you and set it for 30 minutes. Tell them everyone is going to be active for 30 minutes. Shoot hoops, go for nature walks, play volleyball (or water volleyball if it’s hot and you have access to a pool). Most kids will want to keep playing after the egg timer goes off.”
Let your dog walk the kids.
OK, not really — but a child walking a dog is getting exercise. “Whether she can walk the dog by herself or you go together, it’s a fun way to get her moving,” says Sandy Fowler, mom of two daughters. “To keep it fun for all of us, we change it up. Sometimes, we walk in the neighborhood, but most of the time, we go to a wooded trail or the beach.”
Trade in the car for a bike.
Instead of driving to the neighborhood park, ride your bike. It’s a great way to explore your local community while exercising. “We ride with our kids to activities and on local errands,” says Fowler. “Its fun, healthy, green and free!”
Bench press the flour.
Celebrity trainer Kathy Kaehler suggests using everyday household items as an opportunity to use your muscles. “Did you use your muscles today? This is a great question to ask your kids and yourself every day. Using your body to push, pull, drag, lift or hold something like a weight, grocery bags, suitcase, rocks, stroller or dog will, over time, create more lean body weight,” she says. “Strength training in and out of the gym is a very important part of a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle.”
Have an adventure.
“Kids need and thrive on adventures,” says Dr. Tom Potisk, the Down-to-Earth Doctor. “Incorporate adventure into any activity, and kids will demand more. For example, I’m always on the lookout for activities in my area whereby my kids can explore and experience something new. Recently, we took a bike trip on the Elroy-Sparta state trail in Wisconsin because the trail is on an abandoned railroad line that goes through three tunnels that are 1/4 to 1/2 mile in length. The kids loved it!”