I am blessed to work with so many parents- some of whom have had to reintroduce themselves to physical activity after several years off. Work, then children - their time was zapped, and they didn’t keep physical activity as a part of their routines. This can make the transition back into a more active lifestyle a little more difficult.
“I wish I had never stopped working out (or exercising, running… you fill in the blank),” many of them say.
And now, as parents, they want to pass that knowledge down to their children - to make exercise and activity a priority in their lives. I believe that it’s one of the most important lessons a parent can teach their child.
Physically FIT kids live a stronger, healthier life, resulting in better attention and memory activities in the brain. In a study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, FIT kids had higher cell volumes in the brain, more efficient nerve activity, and higher cognition.
Teaching kids to be active can be easy and fun, and you can lay that foundation at a very young age - it’s all about the routine!
Here are 7 ways to get active with your kids and have fun!
1. Family walks - Great for family time, and great for your bodies. After dinner, get out and walk with your family. Just a 15 minute walk goes a long way! Walking after a meal lowers blood glucose levels more than any other activity, and you get to catch up with your loved ones!
2. Encouraging your kids to take an exercise break when studying - At least for me, homework was never a whole lot of fun, and a quick break can help to reset any lost concentration. Encourage your kids to get up every 15 or 20 minutes and have them do 30 jumping jacks or jog in place for a few minutes. Instead of continuously ingesting new information (and not retaining), they can do a little mental recap of what they just did and have a better memory, or they can just relax their mind for a few!
3. Change up movie night - Instead of taking everyone to the movies or watching a movie at home, change it up every once in awhile and pick an active event like a local rock-climbing gym or maybe a Wii Fit game to get everyone in the family moving!
4. Schedule a fun “Summer Activity” - This takes a little bit of negotiation, but ask your kids about what they really enjoy doing. Wakeboarding? Horseback? Bike riding? Once you know, schedule it for everyone. You’ll all be active, and you’ll be learning more about each other - maybe your kid will get a kick out of showing you how to do something!
5. Spice up TV time - Put a BOSU ball or a medicine ball in front of the TV and kids will naturally gravitate towards them while watching TV. Burn calories while watching TV!
6. Introduce charity involvement - Great on all kinds of levels. Sign up for a local race and do a family run. Sign up for a Habitat for Humanity event. You’re giving back to the community and getting out and active with your family!
7. Encourage ‘help in the kitchen’ - When cooking dinner, get your kids to help with the small things. It’s great to help set an expectation for them to not feel like chores are a burden...they are just a part of life - and also get them away from sitting sedentary in front of the TV. A couple of trips back and forth from the table to the kitchen add up!
Staying FIT and active has a huge impact for years to come - especially when it’s part of the routine. Instill those qualities and routines early, and your kids will benefit for a long time!