Tips for making exercise natural for children

Posted 18 July 2022

by Sarah Ashe

How many times have we heard ‘just one more cartoon mum’ or ‘just one more video game’ on a weekend morning? Technology has never been so easily accessible for our little ones, with the internet, social media, TV and movies just a button away. Though there’s nothing wrong with these things, it’s so important to keep them active, to encourage them to move and step outside.

Actually executing this might be harder than we’d like and it’s easy to fall into the routine of having a chill day, especially when we are exhausted ourselves.

So, let’s explore some tips to help get your kids moving…

  1. Be a role model. Your children watch everything you do and they mimic your habits (both good and bad!). If your kids see you being physically active – and most importantly having fun whilst doing it – they’re more likely to want to be active too.
  1. Give gifts that encourage physical activity. The next time a birthday or Christmas comes around consider wrapping up bicycles, footballs, rollerblades or skipping ropes. These all make great gifts that promote physical activity. Alternatively, activity-tracking apps and technologies are also a good choice to add extra fun to exercise.
  1. Replace the car or bus with movement. Walk your kids to school, cycle to the park or roller-skate to your next sleepover. If that’s not an option, park a bit further than you usually do and walk the final 5 minutes!
  1. Get everyone involved. Mum, Dad, Granny, uncle, best friend, dog… Invite everyone to participate in group physical activities like beach cricket, football, badminton or frisbee in the park!
  1. Make it social. Invite your kids’ friends to join in the activities you have planned, you can combine physical activity with a playdate meaning your kids will look forward to it even more!
  1. Inject some fun. Kids are more likely to keep exercising if they are doing an activity that they enjoy. Think outside the box: have a dance party, do lots of walking round your local farm or zoo, go ice skating or swimming or even put on your own sports day in your garden.
  1. Include your kids in the daily household chores. Many mundane household activities require some level of physical activity. Get them assisting in washing the car, mowing the lawn or putting away washing. The huge plus here is you get a little bit of help too!
  1. Make it routine. Take a walk or visit the park at the same time every day. It will become habit and second nature for you all, making it easier to complete.
  1. Competition can be fun. Why not have a contest to see who can run faster or do more star jumps? Give the winner a prize or use technology to track your results and progress.
  1. Let them be free. Kids have the brightest imaginations and play is so important. Leave them to their own devices (within reason) and they might burn more calories than you think. Playing hide and seek, riding bikes, building snowmen, making a den, or playing shops all gets them moving their bodies.

The more we can encourage kids to see that exercise and movement is fun, not all about physical image and an essential part of everyday life, the more likely it will be that they carry that into their adult life.

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