Are you tired of watching your kids waste their time watching TV and YouTube videos? Are you starting to worry about their physical health? What are you going to do about it? As a parent, it’s your responsibility to make sure kids are healthy and well, so here are just a few tips to get them off the couch and into a fitness routine.
Turn Off the TV
This is step number one to getting away from the couch and into the wide world of physical fitness. Of course kids are going to remain sedentary if you let them. There are endless delights to be found on television and the internet. However, kids can only access them through electronics and mobile devices, and you hold the reins on these items.
If your kid is a couch potato, simply set strict limits on the amount of time spent on devices. Remove TVs and computers from bedrooms and keep them in public areas so you can monitor usage. Lock up tablets and phones when kids have had their allotted time.
Soon your kids will get bored, and this gives you a great opportunity to suggest a hike, riding bikes to the park to play, or any number of other physical pursuits that are healthier than sitting around like a bump on a log.
Pinpoint a Passion
Perhaps the problem is that your kids don’t know what types of exercise they like. You may be able to spend an hour on the treadmill or lifting weights, but this won’t be fun for kids. What activities do they enjoy?
You can try out jogging, biking, swimming, and all kinds of team sports, or simply throw around a Frisbee at the park. Exercise is not one size fits all. Some amount of trial and error may be necessary to figure out what gets your kids moving and having fun.
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Join the Fray
Your kids look to you to set an example and create good habits, so you can’t order the kids outdoors and then spend the time zoning out in front of the boob tube yourself. If kids are struggling, you need to participate and exercise as a family.
Even if you put in your time at the gym, setting aside extra time to exercise with kids shows them that you care and that the activity is important. It also creates opportunities to spend quality time together, having fun and making memories.
Start Social Hour
Participating in physical activity as a family can certainly make it more fun than exercising alone, but kids like to spend time engaged in play with their peers. If you’re having trouble with motivation, simply get kids to invite their friends along for the ride.
You can let them loose at the park to clamber all over the play equipment in good weather or build snow forts in the winter. Or you can talk to other parents about signing kids up for sports together so they don’t have to go it alone. Adding the element of socialization can help to get kids in the spirit of exercise.
It’s really not enough to shuttle kids out the door for some physical play time once in a while or whenever you happen to think of it. Regular activity is a must for good health and as a parent. You have the power to make it happen.
You don’t necessarily have to regiment physical fitness – you don’t want your kids to view it as a chore – but you should plan for some amount of activity time every day. This could mean taking a break in the middle of homework to ride bikes to the park, kick around a ball in the backyard, or have a snowball fight.
If you’re having trouble keeping up with planning activities, enrolling kids in school or local sports leagues or signing them up for classes at the YMCA might help you to stay on track. You have to find ways to make exercise regular and mandatory, but still fun for kids.
Kids these days are all about devices. If you’re having a hard time tearing them away from phones and tablets, you might want to try incorporating technology into the mix.
These devices let kids track all kinds of metrics like steps and goals, while delivering virtual rewards and gamification features like virtual pets or cartoons that tie in with stats and keep kids motivated. You could compare family step counts each day or add up your total steps as a family. Getting kids off the couch and into exercise isn’t always easy, but making it fun and social certainly helps.