10 Creative Ways To Motivate Your Kids To Exercise
If you have a hard time keeping your kids physically fit, you are not alone.
Studies show that 1 in 3 children today are overweight or obese. And they are not alone.
The National Center for Health Statistics released a report in 2009 that revealed a shocking statistic. Since the 1970s, obesity in children and adults has more than doubled in the United States.
And the US is far from the only modern country that has this problem.
The Nielsen Company reports that children as young as 2 to 5 years old watch more than 4.5 hours of television each and every day. Children 6 to 8 years of age watch 4.0 hours of TV daily, and when your children are between 9 and 18 years old, they are glued to the TV screen 4.5 hours every day.
Add the prevalence of smartphones, handheld gaming consoles, laptops, computers and tablets and it is amazing that your child gets any exercise at all.
The deadly negatives of a sedentary lifestyle are many.
Obesity, heart disease, poor social skills and a shorter lifespan are just a few of the downsides of getting little exercise. You as a parent understand the benefits of moving, exercising and working out.
Heart health, skin tone, strength, social skills, mental functioning and self-esteem are all improved when human beings get up and get moving.
But it is not always easy to keep your child motivated where exercise is concerned.
Employ the following 10 tips with your children, and you will find them ready and willing to exercise and stay fit on a regular basis.
1) Practice what you preach and lead by example
Your children often act like they want to have nothing to do with you.
But the truth is, all kids look up to their parents, as long as mom and dad are acting as positive role models.
When your child sees you begin to transform your body and energy levels by exercising, she wants to get involved as well.
If you begin exercising regularly, you will also find opportunities for healthy conversation.
Explain to your child that you work out and exercise even when you don’t feel like it, because of the rewards.
Remind them how good they feel after they have exercised, and lead by example.
Your chances of keeping your child motivated to enjoy some type of physical fitness will improve dramatically.
2) Get Fido involved
Why not turn taking the dog for a walk into a chance for a physical fitness lesson?
The dog has to be walked every day anyway, so get your kids involved. This is also a great way to teach your children responsibility.
If there is a dog park in your city, this becomes a fun way to get your child socializing with animal lovers and others their age, and Fido benefits as well.
The daily habit of walking the dog can also work as a physical fitness exercise when it is adapted to other pets as well.
Just 15 minutes of play time with your cat does both your child and the animal a lot of good. And if you have an outdoor cat, this provides your child a chance to get a healthy dose of sunshine and fresh air.
3) Get their friends involved
There are countless studies that show the power of working out or exercising with a partner. Both parties motivate each other, and excuses are not usually accepted.
You can use this motivational tool with your child also. Host a backyard game of kickball or badminton for your children and their friends.
If you have a nearby park, baseball diamond or soccer field, volunteer to spend a Saturday sponsoring a day of fun competition.
Provide healthy drinks and snacks, take care of the driving duties, and you will find you are a big hit with the parents of your kid’s friends, while also earning the thanks and admiration of your children.
4) Make it a family affair
This is really an offshoot of the first tip.
By making exercise a family activity, you ensure that your children do not want to be left out. Don’t forget that exercise can mean a simple walk around the block, scheduling a fun picnic on a sunny day, or playing catch in the backyard.
Each member of the family should be allowed to choose a particular physical activity that the whole family takes part in once a week, or once a month.
When you join your children in working out, exercising and keeping fit, you strengthen your bond as a family. There are obvious physical benefits for sure, but the bonus of becoming closer as a family unit may be the best benefit of all.
5) Use older siblings as role models
Children often times look up to their older brothers and sisters. If you have older children that excel in sports and love exercising and getting outdoors, their younger siblings may look up to them.
Use that older child as a positive role model for exercise. You can even get them involved motivating their younger brothers and sisters.
This ensures that your children spend time together. It also provides your older kids with a wonderful mentoring experience. The younger child wants to emulate the positive behavior of the older sibling, and the older child enjoys taking his little brother or sister under his wing.
This situation provides excellent bonding and emotional rewards, as well as physical ones.
6) Motivate with a carrot instead of a stick
There is an old idiom that refers to a “carrot and stick” motivational approach. The idea is to use both punishment and rewards to get the type of behavior you are looking for.
But in almost all scenarios, you will catch more flies with sugar than you will with vinegar.
Rewards generally outperform punishments as proper motivators for instilling consistent behavior, even with kids.
Instead of browbeating and using negative comments with your children when they do not exercise, encourage them with positive statements when they do.
You may also attach the performance of proper behavior to how many hours per week your children can watch TV or spend time on their computer.
Children do crave discipline and structure, and punishment in some form will always have its place. But positive motivation makes both you and your child feel better, and boosts self-esteem as well as physical health.
7) Take the family camping
When you mention the words “exercise” and “working out” to your children, they sometimes make a face like they just ate a lemon.
Structured exercise is excellent for your child’s health. But an activity like camping for a weekend can easily be viewed as physical fitness. And we are not talking about spending the time away in some plush resort.
Pitching tents, collecting firewood, setting up and breaking down camp, these are all activities which are very physical in nature. Just about every part of camping is physical.
So your child benefits from exercise, but your family strengthens in other ways as well. Teamwork is encouraged, and you have a wonderful opportunity to teach your children about nature.
Taking the family camping or fishing can provide so many more lifetime benefits than just physical fitness.
8) Play dirty
If you want your child to get fired up about exercising, let them get wet and dirty.
Biking or running through water and mud is usually a no-no.
From a very young age, your child remembers you preaching to them to stay out of puddles.
You are always telling them to keep their clothes clean, and this goes against what most kids inherently enjoy doing. So why not promote a play date were getting dirty, muddy and filthy is encouraged?
Playing flag football, baseball, softball or soccer on a rainy, messy field is an activity that many children dream of.
The thought of slipping and sliding around in dirt, mud and water with your blessing is something so intoxicating children dare not dream it could happen. This also plays on the theme of not using traditional exercise routines as the tool which provides physical fitness.
Just be prepared when your kids’ parents complain that your messy play encouragement has their children begging to get involved as well.
9) Break out the plastic
Maybe you have a child that loves to play basketball, but he does not have his own basketball goal. Or it could be that your kid loves bike riding, but her bicycle is old and beaten up, an embarrassment for her to be seen on, and is always breaking down. In some cases, your child shows an inclination to exercise.
Count yourself lucky if this is the case.
If you are the fortunate parent of a child that wants to be active but can’t, tighten up your budget and make the appropriate purchase to encourage your child’s healthy pastime.
Your child’s lack of motivation to keep moving might just be relieved with a simple purchase, so make it happen.
Sit down and have a conversation with your kids. Ask them what type of sports or exercise equipment they would use on a frequent basis. Then you can make an intelligent purchase that will keep your child motivated to stay active and healthy.
10) Keep track of their progress
Any time that you exercise on a consistent basis, you should track several physical metrics.
Depending on the particular exercise or physical activity your child is enjoying, you want to measure and record things like amounts of time, how fast they ran, how many goals they scored and other applicable factors.
This can help motivate your child greatly when they see themselves enjoying physical improvements on a regular basis.
You will also want to note your child’s accomplishments in school. Consistent exercise has been shown to increase your child’s mental abilities as well as physical.