Exercise is important for our minds and bodies. Being active reduces the risk of chronic health problems later in life, helps kids do better in school, and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
We encourage parents to teach the importance of physical activity while children are young to help them maintain healthy habits as they grow up. One great way to introduce children to exercise is by exercising as a family. Exercising as a family not only demonstrates the importance of exercise, but it also creates a culture of wellness, helps children develop positive exercise habits, and is a great bonding experience. Here are some tips to make great family-friendly exercises:
Make it Fun
Be sure the activity is something that you and your children will enjoy. This is a great opportunity to try something new and explore! Make selecting an activity extra fun by creating slips of paper with different ideas, placing them in a jar, and having your children select randomly.
All types of exercise can be age-appropriate with a little creativity. For young children, consider a family scavenger hunt, running through the sprinklers, or playing catch. For older children and adolescents, consider going for a hike, going on a run, or kayaking. Activities like gardening and dancing count too! Teach children about teamwork and sportsmanship by organizing team games like Capture the Flag, Hide and Seek, or even making a game out of household chores.
Remember Yoga and Meditation
Yoga is not just for adults! Yoga helps children manage their anxiety, boosts children’s self-esteem and body awareness, enhances children’s concentration and memory and reduces impulsivity and hyperactivity. For younger children, consider making yoga a game by posing like different animals. For older children and teenagers, consider using a Yoga application (there are many!)
It’s Okay to be Indoors
Even though fresh air is great, there are times when it isn’t possible to get moving outside. There are many ways to exercise indoors, including watching an exercise video (YouTube has plenty of kid-friendly content), having an indoor dance party, or even walking up and down stairs.
Lead by Example
Parents should lead by example. Participate in family exercise instead of standing on the sidelines! By modeling the importance of exercise and physical activity, you can help your child develop a healthy lifestyle.
Make it Regular
Like good eating habits, regular physical activity needs to be part of everyone’s routine. Try to set aside 30-60 minutes each day to get moving as a family. It can be helpful to schedule activities ahead of time—
choose times of the day or week when everyone is most likely to stick to the schedule.
Good luck and get moving!