One of the easiest ways to get your kids active is to use game play to disguise exercise. Science has shown that “neurons that fire together, wire together.”
Blending fun and fitness is a effective way to teach your kids a lifetime lesson – that fitness can be an enjoyable activity, versus a chore.
Hide Exercise In Games– Neurons that Fire Together, Wire Together
Take traditional and adapt it to add fitness. If you play Duck, Duck, Goose, the child who gets tagged will do five squats in the center of the circle before starting the next round. If you are playing freeze tag, the way to get “unfrozen” is to do ten sit ups. Think creatively about games your kids already play, and sneak some exercises in there!
Races– Children Are Naturally Competitive
There is something very natural about the pairing of children and races. They instantly experience the activity as more fun and without realizing it, they also amp up the intensity of their exercise.
You can make races out of anything! All you need is a stopwatch. Can they run to the edge of the yard and back? Can they do it faster now? How long does it take them if they crabwalk? How long can they hang from a tree branch?
If you have more than one child, have them race each other! Congratulate them both for what they have done well.
Obstacle Courses– Make-Believe + Exercise = Fun
Another way to easily get your kids moving and harness their amazing imaginative powers is to create obstacle courses. Maybe they are escaping from the jungle, or maybe they are pirates on a pirate ship at sea. Pick a scenario and build an obstacle course around that idea.
Obstacle courses can be made out of things you already have around the house or yard. Use boxes to jump on or over, tires to flip or jump in, cones, hula hoops to jump in or crawl through, and benches to crawl under. Between obstacles have your child imitate animals – bear crawls, bunny hops, frog jumps, and crab walks.
Ask your kids for ideas – they will have many you never thought of and will feel good for contributing! After they have done the course a few times, have them repeat it and see if they can do it faster! Who can get the fastest time through the course? A good obstacle course will become an endless loop of activity.
It Doesn’t Have to Be a Big Deal– Keep It Simple and Find the Moments
Being active does not have to be a big deal. If you take fifteen minutes a day to actively participate with your child, it can instill new habits and get them thinking creatively about exercise.
Some days it may feel really difficult to find the time for exercise, so start thinking creatively for simple ways to incorporate fitness. Are you standing in line at the grocery store with your child? What if you did ten squats every time you waited in line? Is your child helping you with laundry or putting the groceries away? Pick up and put down the grocery bag a few times and you are dead-lifting!
Don’t make it a big deal or a chore, it’s all about FUN. We have found that once kids experience fitness as fun, they automatically start doing it more on their own, so find the moments in your every day life where you can not only fit in some exercise and feel good for yourself, but you can be a great role model for your child.
Do It With Your Child– Live Longer Together
As a coach of children’s fitness classes, one of the things I have discovered is that children naturally love to show off and love to have their parents involved in what they are doing.
The more you can participate with your child, the more fun you will all be having and the healthier you will be as a family unit. Think of every time you exercise with your child as an act of banking time – time that you will get to spend together in the long run because you will be leading healthier, longer lives.
Put in the work now. Workout and get your kids to workout and enjoy the time together that you have decades from now. Be a role model for your family and help your child become one, too!