Teaching your kids how to enjoy exercise shouldn’t be a challenge. However, with so many kids, it can be hard to talk about the benefits of physical fitness in a way that makes sense to them. The good news is that kids don’t have to hate exercise. With the right tools and the right approach, showing your kid how to enjoy physical fitness and exercise can be incredibly simple and intuitive. If you’re struggling to find ways of getting your kids into fitness, here are a few basic tips to follow.
Involve the Family
It can be extremely hard to tear your kid away from a favorite TV show or website–especially when they’ve just come home from school and are already on the couch. Making exercise a family activity is a fun way to counteract this. If everyone exercises together at a convenient time, like before or after meals, or at a designated time on weekends, it can seem more like a togetherness initiative than a painful chore for kids. Even if your daily routine is five minutes long and just involves jumping jacks and stretches, getting a kid into the habit of devoting a small amount of time to fitness each day is a great start.
If you’re a family with pets, encourage your kids to take walks with them daily, and if applicable. It’s important to stress that exercise doesn’t have to involve a lot of activity and exertion. It can be as simple as taking a fifteen-minute walk around the block with the family dog. This is also something that can involve the rest of the family or friends around the neighborhood. Showing kids that exercise can be a great community activity instantly sweeten the deal, especially for kids who enjoy being social in everything they do.
Give Them Options
Exercise shouldn’t seem like a chore, and it shouldn’t be dreaded. Having strict set routines for exercise could easily have the effect of turning a child off the idea, or causing them to think of it as a nuisance or a burden. This doesn’t have to be the case. Encourage your kids to talk about the types of exercise they like the best, and try to introduce new things into the rotation every so often. A great option is to get your kids started in a beginner’s yoga class, where each class involves a new rotation of exercises and stretches and never relies on repetition.
Make It Fun
Again, if you want to catch a kid’s interest with something, you need to make it fun. If your child doesn’t immediately relish the idea of having to exercise every day, try incentivizing. Make exercise a means to an end. It should be something that your child can do in order to earn something else. The great thing about exercising with kids, also, is that the type of exercise can be unconventional. You can play a family game of tag, run around the yard, or fly a kite, ride a bike, as long as it gets your kid moving.
With adults, who think of exercise as a part daily life, it can be hard to remember that kids don’t have the natural initiative to pursue fitness and personal health every day. Always be sure to check in with your child to find out their preferences. If your kid really hates yoga but loves swimming, that’s valuable information to have. Try to open them up to a number of different activities, from karate to ballet to gymnastics. If a kid doesn’t seem open to the whole idea of exercise to begin with, it’s most likely because they simply haven’t yet found the sport or activity they really enjoy.
Encourage Preexisting Interests
Your child’s everyday interests are always your greatest tool in incentivizing or getting them to pursue something. No matter what you’re encouraging, there’s always a way to link it to something kids are already interested in. If your child loves action-packed video games, encourage them to join a karate class. If they’re interested in watching sports on TV, get them to join the team. No matter what their interests are, chances are you’ll be able to find a way to link it to a specific type of exercise.
Set (Fun) Goals
With competitive sports and solo exercise alike, it’s important to set goals. As adults, we have to do this for ourselves. When it comes to kids, it’s great to encourage new goalposts each day, week, or month. If a kid is getting into the competitive spirit, encourage them to beat their personal best each day. It’s a fun and easy way of getting a kid invested in exercise in a way that will stick with them into adulthood.