6 Fun Ways To Encourage Your Child To Exercise
1. Don't call it exercise!
Heed the cardinal rule for actually getting kids to exercise: call it anything but! For example, if you’re trying to target your kids’ core strengthening and coordination skills, don’t tell them as much – just supply them with a trampoline, and watch as they reap the physical benefits of jumping.
In this vein, try to locate exercise outside of the running track or the gym as much as possible. Going for a family hike in a beautiful location will soon make it more about the surrounding sights and sounds than the activity itself.
2. Introduce a rewards system
We all remember the gold star chart for good behaviour at school; institute the same kind of thing with exercise, and see your kid enthusiastically bound at the door for their 60 minutes of play per day.
There is, however, an important coda to this suggestion, and it has to do with the type of rewards on offer. You don’t want to teach your child bad habits by putting a pie or a chocolate bar at the end of the finish-line, so steer clear of junk-food related treats and compile a list of alternative rewards. These rewards may include your kid’s choice of dinner at their favourite healthy restaurant, a movie night or a new book.
3. Expose them to new activities
Consider planning a sneaky spectator trip to your local sports field one Saturday morning while all the football, rugby, and hockey games are in full swing. There’s no better way to motivate your kids to engage in a group sport than to show them just how collaborative, competitive and fun these activities appear from the outside. Plus, they’ll be able to have their pick of which sport to take up, and autonomy is always an essential component to children’s sustained exercise.
4. Make a tradition of it
If you turn a weekly sports game or dance training into an event rather than a task, your child will be far more apt to associate it with pleasant and fun memories. If it’s winter, for example, you may want to take your budding athletes out for a hot drink after the match, or you might have a weekly TV show scheduled in that everyone can sit down and watch.
5. Make sure you get involved too!
Exercise is no fun for kids if they feel their parents are surveying their every action like drill sergeants. Get involved yourself by taking every opportunity you can to be an active exercise partner for your child. Introducing your kids to your favourite physical activity can also be a wonderful means to reigniting your own passion for exercise – so dial the years back, and show your kids how fun exercise (and you) can be!
6. Get the help of some digital aids
Not all apps encourage couch-potato behaviour. Indeed, many actually facilitate exercise, and since modern kids love to tap away on an iPad or phone, they can be a great way to get kids started on a fitness journey. Games like Pokémon Go will get your children up and moving with minimal encouragement (especially if their friends are keen too), while other applications and devices will allow your child to track and visualise their own exercise progress (FitBits and other step-counting devices can be ideal stimulators for some children).
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