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January 12, 2022

Five clever ways to encourage your kids to exercise more

Parenting Fitness

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There may be nothing your child loves more than their tablet, but eSports still don’t count as exercise! Winter’s shorter days and cooler temperatures can make it tempting for kids to turn into couch potatoes, but exercise is essential for children all year long. Not only is regular physical activity important for a child’s bone and muscle development, but it also lowers their risk of depression, fights obesity, and promotes quality sleep at night.

If you’re trying to encourage your kids to ditch the electronics and exercise more often, here are five fun approaches to take:

1. Present a challenge and reward

One of the things kids enjoy about video games are the rewards they get when a challenge is completed. There’s no shame in taking the same approach when it comes to exercise: create your own challenges that will each unlock a new reward. There’s nothing wrong with rewarding four days of cardio with a movie night!

2. Make it social

Many of today’s games include a multiplayer experience. Put the same philosophy to work at home: collaborate with the parents of your kid’s friends to find activities that bring them together in the real world. A hiking and camping weekend offers endless opportunities for physical activity, but even a trip to a local soccer field or skating rink can make exercise feel more like a party than an obligation.

3. Do it together

Depending on your child’s age, the idea of spending more time with a parent may not have much appeal, but exercise is an opportunity to do something together that benefits you both. You can try something as low-impact as playing catch together in the backyard, or setting a fitness goal to work on together, like running a 5K. If you’re feeling especially brave, try engaging in a fitness challenge — just prepare for a bruised ego when your little one eventually ends up beating you!

4. Combine exercise with housework

You don’t typically find the words “fun” and “housework” in the same sentence. But for older children, you may be able to get them moving by assigning them chores that need to be done around the house. Mowing the lawn, raking leaves, shoveling snow, and many other types of housework all count as exercise — and who knows, an allowance may be the exact motivator your kids need to get active. If your young person is particularly enterprising, encourage them to start their own landscaping business in the neighborhood!

5. Get them walking

If your child is old enough to go somewhere on their own but doesn’t yet have their driver’s license, encourage them to walk to nearby destinations rather than asking for a ride. Walking or biking to school or a friend’s house can add up to a lot of exercise in a day.

Some kids naturally gravitate toward sports and love to practice, play, or hit the gym. But for those who need a little more motivation, there are fun and clever ways to keep them active — just at the time when they need it most.

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