The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that children spend less than 2 hours per day doing sedentary non-school related activities such as watching TV, playing video games or computer time.
It’s tough being a parent, especially with all of the demands on our personal and family time. Instilling the importance of regular physical activity is a great lesson we can teach our children that will hopefully stay with them for a lifetime. Try to think of ways to show our kids that exercise is fun, not work!
Include different activities or a variety of exercises – some examples are bike riding, walking, scavenger hunts, swimming, rollerblading, etc. For exercises, you could set up a competition with different stations, such as, how many jumping jacks, push-ups, or sit-ups, you can do in 30 seconds, recording the results.
You could also make it fun by letting each family member take a turn in picking their favorite activity or leading the competition on different nights. Creating your own game/competition could be fun as well: run in place, hop on one foot, juggle, etc. You could set a timer for exercise each night. Kids love to be challenged. Let the kids make up games and be creative, giving them as much input as possible.
Different seasons may need special planning. In the summer, go for family walks, hikes, bike rides, scavenger hunts, or swimming classes. Make a schedule each month or week that states when, where and what the family is going to do. If you stay inside due to poor weather conditions, think about investing in Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinect games that get you moving - really moving - not just your arm or hand. You could also find new winter activities to do together, like snow shoeing, sledding, cross country skiing, or ice skating. You could also walk together at the mall or grocery store 10 minutes before you start shopping.
It’s important to show our kids that exercise can be fun. If we set the example that shows our kids that it’s a burden to exercise as an adult, then that’s what they will think. We can use this opportunity to set a healthy example for our kids now so it’s easier and more natural for them to make it a priority when they are adults.