As parents we all want our kids to be happy and healthy. A big part of being healthy is being physically active. Often parents are at a loss to find ways to get their children interested in exercise and getting fresh air. Many children today are more interested in the TV and video games than in going outside to play or exercising.
To help get our children more physically active I have come up with a few ways to get them exercising without even realizing it. These are all tried and tested with my own two boys ages 3.5 and almost 2 years old.
1. Explore nature
Kids love exploring and going on adventures. It is all in how you present it to them. Don’t say, “Do you want to go for a walk?” Say instead, “Let’s go discover new trails!” Search the Internet for hiking trails near your home or if you live near woods like I do, go off the beaten path and see what you can see. Keep them engaged by searching for the next trail marker or naming the trees, flowers or birds you see. Bring a bucket and collect pine cones, leaves and other cool findings. My 3 year old often walks for over an hour in the woods with me. As long as you keep them looking ahead, they will keep walking. You can always bring a wagon or sleigh in case they do get too tired before you get back.
2. Buy sport equipment just for them.
Buy your kids skis, skates or snowshoes for winter and bicycles or roller blades for summer. If you do an activity like snowshoeing, buy your children the same equipment. They will be more likely to come with you if they get to look like you. My 3 year old was so excited when he saw he had the same snowshoes as mummy and daddy.
3. Sign them up for lessons or sports teams
This is a great way to get them active a couple of times a week. It also teaches them many skills like coordination, sportsmanship and cooperation. Babies as young as 3 months old can participate in swimming lessons. Think outside the box when it comes to sports, your child may prefer something like gymnastics or taekwondo over traditional sports like hockey or soccer.
4. Use workout videos
Put in a fun workout video such as Zumba and get your kids to follow along with you. My Zumba set came with one pound shaker weights and both of my kids love them. They will keep dancing around and shaking the weights for a full 30 minutes! If you do not have Zumba DVDS, make a Youtube playlist of energetic music videos and dance around your living room. Both of my young sons love to do yoga and they are WAY more flexible than I. There are even yoga videos specifically made for children.
5. Be active yourself
Children learn by example. If they see you exercising they will be more likely to exercise. Kids want to be like their parents and WITH their parents. So if you are going out for a run, have your little ones run with you. Bring a jogging stroller and let them jump in when they get tired. Go for family bike rides or have family ski days. When my sons see me lace up my sneakers, they say “I want to exercise too, Mummy!” If you are not currently active, maybe trying to set a good example is just what you need to get moving. We all have to start somewhere.
Kristen is a stay-at-home-mum of two little boys. She blogs at Country Fit Family and went from a couch-potato to half-marathoner in 7 months. Her goal is to find ways to be active outside and creative inside with her whole family. Check out her blog for recipes, kids’ crafts and fitness tips.