How to Instill a Love of Fitness In Your Kids
by Erin Vaughan
Let’s face it: most days, it’s hard enough to get yourself to the gym without adding an eight-year-old into the mix. But the lifestyle choices you teach kids now could have a huge impact on the rest of their adulthoods. Research shows that healthy habits formed in early development are more likely to stick, so it’s never too early to get kids stretching their muscles!
Kids over six need about an hour of activity a day to stay healthy, and weekly strength training to promote the development of strong bones. But you don’t need me to tell you that getting kids up and going isn’t always easy, especially when there are video games and toys calling from the other room. Still, there are a couple of ways you can give kids a nudge in the right direction—and closer to a healthy adulthood!
Make It Fun
As grownups, we tend to treat working out like another chore on our to-do list. But to turn exercise into a lifetime habit, you should enjoy what you’re doing. It’s the same way with kids. Get them to move by gamifying activity. Create a homemade obstacle or host a dance off. Organize a scavenger hunt in your local park or a triathlon with events like hula hooping, jumping jacks and bouncy hop balls. Even classic kids’ games like hide the flag, red rover, and hide and seek are a good choice. You don’t have to be on the treadmill to get fit!
As someone who was always picked last in gym class, I know that conventional organized sports aren’t for everyone. But your kid doesn’t have to be into soccer or T-ball to get active. Nowadays, there are kids’ classes for almost any kind of interest, from tumbling to yoga to dance to crossfit. Your local YMCA is a great place to start—they almost always have programs designed for a variety of ages and interests.
Encourage Them to Hang Out with Other Fit Kids
Adult role models have a huge effect on kids habits. But as any parent of teens can attest, peers also exert a powerful influence over their decisions. Encourage kids to spend time with friends who have already adopted healthy exercise habits. Of course, if you’re too pushy, your teen is likely to do the opposite just to rebel. So just give them a gentle nudge. For instance, offer to take both to the park to shoot hoops or to the pool on a hot day. Be the cheerleader your kids need!
Plan Some Exercise-Centric Dates
Kids today have all kinds of fun options beyond the playground. If your kiddo is into video games, take them to play paintball or laser tag. Are they the more adventurous type? Dare them to go rock climbing or do a session of aerial yoga. Take nature lovers to explore a state park or wilderness area. Or try a trampoline park. Or a fun run. There’s something out there for every kind of kid, and planning a special date together will net you some quality time with your brood too.
Set a Good Example
One of the hardest parts of parenting is being the person your kids think you are. But “do as I say and not as I do” is not a good ethos to have if you want your kids to develop healthy habits. In this case, that means getting yourself out there as well. Turn fitness into a family activity and share your goals and challenges with each other. Or create a reward system. Create goals like “work out three days a week for three months” and treat your kids to a day at a themepark or a pizza party if you (both) hit your target. Not only will it get kids moving, it’ll teach them responsibility and sticktoitiveness as well. And that’s a powerful trifecta of healthy development!
This article was written but Erin Vaughan of FitnessTrainer.com. Erin is a yoga fanatic, runner and sometime cyclist. She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes for FitnessTrainer.com, the leading online marketplace to find a local personal trainer that can help you achieve your health and wellness goals!