There are countless benefits of regular exercise for everyone: disease prevention, strong bones and muscles, long life, and confidence. But after staying indoors for months, it’s easy for kids to get used to that spot on the couch, playing video games, and watching TV. Now that temperatures are rising, it’s time for kids to get outside and be active. Here are five ways to help your kids get active this spring.
1. Start Slowly
Don’t send your kids outside in their exercise clothing to run a mile as soon as the snow melts. Not only will doing too much too soon discourage them, it also puts them at risk for injury. Start with a long walk to the park, and ease into rigorous activity over the course of a few weeks. Once they’re used to the walk, go faster, or encourage them to skip to the park and add physical activities with each outing.
2. Know the Right Types of Exercise
There are three types of exercise everyone needs: aerobic, bone strengthening, and muscle strengthening. Aerobic exercises are activities like running, skipping, and jumping rope. Bone-strengthening exercises are weight-bearing
activities like dancing, hiking, and stair-climbing. Muscle-strengthening exercises are activities like climbing trees, tug-of-war, or swinging on playground equipment. Incorporate all three into your child’s activities, but not every day. The activities should be mixed into other activities throughout the week for at least an hour each day.
3. Make Trades
Try to work exercise into your children’s schedules by trading one sedentary activity for an activity that requires more exertion. For instance, if they normally take the bus to and from school, have them start walking instead. Or, if they go to a friend’s house to play, have them walk rather than driving them. When they take the dog out, give them a destination to get extra walking in. Even playtime can incorporate exercise—exchange an hour of gaming for a game of catch; watching TV can be substituted with hula-hooping; or encourage them to play hide and seek instead of using the computer.
4. Get Involved
Adding a little exercise to your daily activities can do you good, as well as encourage your kids to get moving. Set aside a few hours a week to exercise as a family. Although you all have different physical abilities, there are some activities you can do together. Go on a bike ride with a fun destination like the zoo, or take a hike and bring a picnic lunch. Exercising together keeps you and your kids active, and it presents an opportunity to bond.
5. Start Routines
Just like adults who take daily runs before work, kids need routines to maintain motivation. Have them end the day with jumping rope, a short jog, or even a game of hopscotch. It takes monitoring, but after a few weeks of getting their heart rates up for a few minutes each day, it’ll become a habit that will extend into adulthood.
Everyone—young and old—needs to exercise for good health. Instilling a good pattern early in life will help your kids maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives.