How To Motivate Your Kids To Exercise
Obesity is a problem in the United States. According to the CDC and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, this isn’t simply an adult issue; obesity is severely impacting our children. Nearly ⅓ of children aged 6-19 are overweight. 17% of 2-19 year olds are critically obese. This causes numerous health risks, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, stroke, some forms of cancer, and osteoarthritis. This doesn’t even touch on the social implications or how it impacts a child’s self-esteem. We need our children to be happy, healthy, and confident. We need to get our kids motivated and moving!
How can we combat obesity?
In addition to modeling and teaching healthy eating habits, the best way to combat obesity is to keep our kiddos moving. This is easier said than done, so how do we keep our kids interested and encouraged in a healthier lifestyle? We need to turn off the video games and social media apps, and motivate our kids to be active.
There are three primary components to getting our youth motivated to be active and healthy:
- Make it fun
- Do it with them
- Tie it into your everyday lifestyle.
Make it fun
If it’s not fun, kids aren’t going to want to do it. This is a general rule of thumb for everything from homework to chores to exercise. A traditional, regimented exercise routine is not appropriate for the majority of kids, so why not look at some alternatives? Make it fun, and they’ll be happy to participate. How about playing Frisbee or freeze tag, jump roping, playing hopscotch, learning to hula hoop, doing jumping jacks, or having a dance off? Doing something enjoyable is much more likely to “stick” as a regular routine than trying to force them to participate on a competitive team doing a sport they may not even be physically or developmentally capable of mastering yet. The more they enjoy it, the more successful they will feel at it, and the more likely it is to become ingrained as a healthy habit. Which brings us to the next point.
Do it with them
From birth to about the age of 12, you are your child’s most powerful role model. They are watching and learning from everything you are saying, and even more so from everything you are doing. They crave your attention and simply enjoy being in your company. If they see you exercise regularly, they’ll be more open minded to it. If they do it with you, it is much more likely to be instilled as a life time habit, and you can both reap multiple benefits. In addition to holding you accountable to your daily exercise routine, working out with your child will build and strengthen your bond, increase character and discipline, and improve both of your health and fitness levels while warding off obesity. It’s truly a win-win situation.
To get the most bang for your fitness buck, try to incorporate it into your family’s everyday lifestyle. Not only will this help keep your child motivated, it will encourage your whole family to stay active, stay healthy, and live life to the fullest. Instead of buying your children another game for their Xbox, consider getting toys and games that promote exercise and movement, like jump ropes, skates, or a trampoline. Instead of a going to another movie, take them ice skating or hiking or bowling. Try to include active chores in their household tasks, such as yard work, raking leaves, washing cars, walking the dog, etc. For kids old enough for part-time jobs, encourage ones that will keep them moving like mowing lawns, assistant coaching, pet sitting, etc. Encourage them to be involved with various physical activities, and plan fun family outings like hikes, bike rides, or going swimming. There are countless ways to keep your family active in day-to-day life. Make time for it, be creative, and keep it a priority for your whole family. You will all be healthier, happier, and more motivated the more you integrate it into your daily life.
Stay motivated and thrive
Children are faced with so many struggles in life. Let’s do all we can to keep obesity from being one of them. Teach them fun exercise alternatives, do it with them, and incorporate it into your family’s regular lifestyle. These key components will help you keep yourself and your child motivated to exercise and ultimately lead to a healthier lifestyle and more satisfactory quality of life.
Sloan McKinney is a journalist based in Southern California. After writing about pop culture for a number of years, she has recently begun writing for a new audience. Inspired by DeAnthony, her cat, as well as her dog Max, Sloan now hopes to help other pet owners guarantee their animal companions happy and healthy lives.