How much activity do kids need? It is recommended that children between the ages of 6-17 need 60 minutes of activity every day. Most of that time should be spent in moderate intensity aerobic activity which is anything that gets their heart beating faster than its normal rhythm. At least 3 days a week kids should be encouraged to increase their activity level to vigorous intensity which causes their heart to pound and their breathing to quicken. In addition to aerobic activity muscle strengthening should take place 3 days a week and some examples of that would be climbing or swinging on monkey bars. The last type of activity which should also happen 3 days a week would be bone strengthening because bones need pressure to get stronger. Great ways for kids to build bone would be running, jumping and other weight-bearing activities.
With that in mind here are some awesome tips and tricks to get your kids interested in exercise:
- Be a role model for your kids. Kids learn so much by following the examples of their parents so if they see you up and moving, they will be more inclined to have that kind of lifestyle.
- Use exercise as a form of transportation. If you are going to the park could you walk or bike there? When you are in a building with an elevator trying to take the stairs instead.
- Make family time about exercise. In the winter all join a gym together, in the summer when you are at the beach bring something to play catch. As a parent figure out a way to get involved like coaching a team your children are on.
- Focus on exercise being FUN. As kids, and adults for that matter, we want to do what we find fun. So, make moving their bodies fun. Play loud music, dance, run around in a sprinkler. As parents you may find you are having as much fun as your kids.
- Make it a social event. Invite neighbors or your kid’s friends to get in on the fun. Maybe you could host a neighborhood dodgeball tournament.
- Make it a competition. Teaching children some healthy competition can be a great incentive to do more jumping jacks or run a little farther. It could even be breaking their own record from the week before. Offer a fun prize as incentive.
- Include your kids in household duties. Household chores can really be a form of exercise like raking the lawn, weeding, shoveling snow or mowing.
- Give gifts that promote exercise. Ideas can be related to the seasons like rollerblades, bikes, ice skates, sleds, or soccer balls. Something like a fitbit can be really helpful too to show kids how much activity they are actually getting and to try to beat new goals.
- Limit screen time. Due to the increased use of technology the lifestyles of children have become much more sedentary. It can be easy to lose track of the amount of time children may be using devices between school and being at home so keep an eye on it and set a moderate limit that way there will be plenty of time to exercise and get to use technology.
- Plan active vacations. When you are choosing a destination keep in mind what you could do there such as skiing, snorkeling, camping, hiking or kayaking. You can all try new activities and explore a new place together.
I hope these have been a few helpful ideas for getting your kids and the whole family exercising. Let us know in the comments which ones you try!