Exercising can be heaps of fun if approached in the right way - and as parents, it’s your duty to ensure your children see it that way too. If you go about introducing them to the concept of regular physical activity in a jovial way, as opposed to posing it as a necessity to keep fit and healthy, they are way more likely to adopt these habits themselves. So without further ado, here are 10 fun ways to get your little ones moving, so that they’re working out and hardly realizing it:
1) Monkey See, Monkey Do
Parenting is all about setting the right example, and children are the kings and queens of mimicry. Jane Wilson from Modern Housewives is a full-time mother and blogger from Melbourne. She shares her tip below:
“First off, you need to remember that personal examples are the best ones and that everything should start from an early age. If your kid sees you sit in front of the TV more often than you exercise or spend time outdoors, then you’re the only one to blame. Also, group activities are proven to be most useful for children, so the best way to make them exercise, ride a bike or participate in sports, is to do it with them. For instance, I often make my daughter move and exercise when I introduce it to her as a game - she often has treasure hunts with the other kids in the neighbourhood, Simon says and other similar games which make her run around and have fun while doing it.”
So start doing things you find fun (and physically challenging!) and get your little ones on board too. If you’re going running, bring them along. If you’re taking your bikes out for a spin, attach a kids bike trailer, so your kids can enjoy the ride too! To hear more from Jane, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter!
Carlos Elysee, leading personal trainer, nutritionist and founder of 30 Minute Blitz and 10 Minute Turnaround, shares a couple of fun ways to get your little ones excited about moving:
2) Move Right Along Side Them
“Exercise with your kids. Kids hate nothing more than being told they should do something, particularly exercise. Remember, with kids, exercise can be as simple as going for a walk, a run in the park, or even using playground equipment as exercise props. But do it with them, make it fun and something to enjoy together, and if you have pets like a dog , bring them too and make the kids chase them around - the kids won’t even realize they’re doing a form of exercise. 30 minutes of this activity will fly by.”
An added bonus? You’ll be getting fit at the same time. Let’s face it, we can all use a little extra exercise in our lives.
3) Work Hard, Play Harder
What are kids minds geared to think about 24/7? Games, games, games! So basically turn anything you want them to do into one.
“Turn games into exercise. Remember wheelbarrow races, 3 legged races, piggybacks, frog jumps? Kids these days don’t realize these were a form of activity that was exercise back in the day. Turn these types of exercises into games with kids and it will put a smile on yours and their faces. Have races, see who finishes first, give a fun punishment for those that are second, like having to push the winner around the yard. Games are a great way to keep children active and enjoying forms of exercise at the same time.”
It’s not just kids who will have a great time doing all this, so will you! All of us still have a little kid in us who needs to come out and play from time to time.
4) Positive Reinforcement Will Get You A Long Way!
Although sometimes it can be tempting to chastise and reprimand your way into getting your kids to fall in line as a parent, you’ll find a little encouragement goes a long way. If you make a big fuss of saying how great your kid has done, after they’ve engaged in a physical activity, they are going to want to keep it up!
“Encourage them. How many times have we said to our kids, “Can’t you even do that?”, or “look how fast so and so is!” Remember not all kids are natural athletes, and many develop and bloom at a later age. Encourage kid when they exercise, even if they get tired easy, don’t win or can’t do something, let them know you appreciate that they tried, and that winning isn’t everything. Make them feel that the little extra time they put in at the park or the yard exercising, is something you’re happy with, so that they want to try again and make it a habit.”
5) A Little Incentive
As a parent, you definitely don’t want to have to rely on incentives and rewards to get your children to do what they’re supposed to. However, when you’re getting them into new habits, such as implementing more physical activity and exercise, a little incentive can go a long way. Whether that means a new toy they’ve been after, or a little treat when they’re propped up in their high chair for dinner, you can decide what you think is appropriate.
Never fear - soon enough they’ll find running around and working up a sweat so much fun, you’ll be persuading them to stop, not start! If it takes a couple of little motivators here and there to get them to that point, then so be it!
Alia Steglinski, another leading personal trainer, fitness entrepreneur and founder of Shift and Shape, shares a few of her tips on how to get your kids to work up a sweat voluntarily:
6) Getting Them Outside Is Key
Once you get your kids outside, there are just so many options to get them moving. Whether it’s going for a run, cycling, playing with your pets or being involved in a team sport - you’ll find something that takes their fancy.
“Work out three of your favourite outdoor games that you can both do together such as basketball, frisbee or soccer and have fun, bond and exercise at the same time.”
Time will fly and you’ll both come home huffing, puffing and ready for a well deserved relax.
7) Treat Them Like Adults (Sort Of!)
Even though with some kids you may have to trick them into exercising, some are in fact very mature for their age. If you explain the benefits of exercise to them and let them pick their own form of physical activity they might do so quite willingly.
“Ask your children what his or her favourite indoor activity is as an option for rainy days. Get them to choose from three fun activities such as either dancing to music, playing hide and seek or a Wii sports game (they can do this one on their own).”
Sometimes choice is key, so that they feel they have a say in their own health and wellbeing (this is likely to make them more invested too!).
8) Make The Most Of School
Especially in Australia, most schools have a good selection of team sports your little one can join - making new friends, learning a new skill, and getting fit all at the same time!
“Ask them how they are going with sport at school and get them to show you their favourite moves (push up/plank/sit up).”
School doesn’t last forever, so make the most of all it’s benefits while your little ones has them on offer.
9) Investing Can Be The Best Thing
Sometimes doing the same old boring workout routine can get boring - and mixing it up with different styles and apparatus is key. The child equivalent of this is to get a whole range of toys that are continuously encouraging them to get active.
“Go to a cheap sport shop or toy shop and find fun balls and games to play with such as a velcro catch game set, soccer ball and goal net, swing ball etcetera.”
10) Head Out Into The Big Wide World
You don’t have to continuously find new ways to keep kids active in and around the house. The world is your oyster, so get out there and find the pearls! Whether it’s push-ups against a park bench, dance classes or doing high kicks down the street, you can get creative in how you incorporate physical activity into your little one’s day. If your kids are really busy, check out a few neat ways to sneak exercise into their daily schedule. Put your parenting skills to the test and become your child’s own makeshift personal trainer!