It may be tough to get kids to exercise in today's digital environment. And that is a problem for all of us. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 19% of children in the United States are overweight or obese. That means they have an increased risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other serious health problems as they grow up. But there are ways we can encourage our kids to stay active and healthy! Here are seven tips from experts on how parents can help their children enjoy exercise.
1. Make Exercise Fun
Kids are more likely to go along with something that they enjoy. You could organize a game of soccer or basketball in the park every weekend morning. Or you could take them on hikes through your local forest preserve. Just find an activity that they will want to participate in rather than forcing them into it.
2. Give Rewards
If you make this new habit fun and give rewards for participation, then kids are much more likely to start participating and stay involved long term. There are lots of reward systems for this kind of thing. You could give your child a small prize for each day that they successfully exercise. Or you could give them larger rewards, such as a trip, for reaching milestones.
3. Set an Example
Kids learn from what they observe. If they see that their parents are exercising regularly, the chances that they will start doing so will go up exponentially. This is the single best way to show them what habits they should form, so try to set a good example for them if you can!
4. Don't Force It
If you force your kids to exercise, then you can pretty much guarantee that they will never go along with it. Telling them to go run around the block isn't going to do any good, but offering to play a game with them or taking them on a hike through the park is. They will feel like they are doing it out of their own free will and will be more likely to continue indefinitely.
5. Be Encouraging
Kids are impressionable, and their actions tend to be based on what they think others expect of them. If you can encourage them to exercise by telling them how great it is for their health and that everyone in the family is doing the same thing, you will be much more likely to get a positive response.
6. Make it Social
Many people are more likely to stick to an action if they know that their friends are doing the same. Try grouping up with other families in your neighborhood and organizing weekly exercise sessions for everyone!
7. Talk About It
Kids love talking about themselves and their own experiences. If you talk about your own exercise routine and tell them how much you enjoy it, they will be curious to find out more and consider giving it a shot themselves.
Children six through 17 years of age should do 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous activity every day. We all know that this is a problem in today's society. It is therefore important for parents to do everything they can to encourage exercise in their children.