The habits you form as a child can make all the difference when you’re an adult. As a parent, if you inspire your kids to love exercise from a young age, they’ll likely continue to have an active lifestyle as they get older.
We know that sitting is the new smoking, and the modern lifestyle tends to be quite sedentary. This sedentary lifestyle complete with Netflix and tech gadgets for kids has them playing while sitting quite often. Today, the World Health Organization reports that 340 million children (ages 5 to 19) are obese. Astoundingly, 39 million children under 5 years old are also severely overweight. Sadly, obesity doesn’t only impact one’s self-esteem, but it can lead to the onset of many health conditions.
It’s up to you to lead by example, teach your kids the importance of an active lifestyle, and inspire your kids to love exercise. You can make exercise fun, by getting your kids involved in sports they love, dance classes, or even by planning family kayaking trips.
Motivating your kids to eat healthily and stay physically active can combat their risk of obesity, even if they’re genetically at risk due to a family history of obesity. Exercise is vital to children’s holistic wellness because it helps them keep their bodies healthy. Expending energy also helps your kids fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep.
Most of all, the health benefits of exercising positively influence children’s mental, emotional, and behavioural health. Exercise has been proven to boost their mood, enhance school performance, and reduce anxiety. In addition, if the activity is part of team sports, it will cultivate a sense of teamwork and help your kids foster beautiful friendships. Below are some helpful tips to inspire your kids to love exercise from a young age:
Lead by Example and Model Active Behavior
As a parent, you play a crucial role in helping your children stay more physically active. However, you cannot merely tell your kids to engage in an exercise program. You have to walk the walk, because children observe what their parents do, and follow their parents’ example.
The kids have to love seeing you exercising and moving your body. Model good behaviour and show them that you enjoy exercise, because of what it can do for your health. For example, you can do fun Zumba guided exercise routines at home and encourage them to join you. Or, take them on scenic hikes with you.
Remember, studies show that habits learned in childhood are much likelier to stay with them into adulthood. Thus, if exercise and sports are a family priority, you can rest assured that your children will have a strong foundation to ensure a lifetime of healthy living.
Have an Enlightening Talk With the Family Doctor
During one of your well-child visits, collaborate with your paediatrician to speak with your children on the benefits of exercise and keeping physically fit. Your doctor is an authoritative figure who can perfectly explain why physical activity should be a part of your family’s life.
With your doctor’s guidance, your children will understand why they must incorporate exercise into their routine. Moreover, the doctor can help your children identify activities most suited for them and their age level.
Encourage Them To Participate in Fun Activities or Sports
For your kids to love exercise, they have to enjoy it. It should be fun. Help each of your children discover a team sport or group activity that they genuinely enjoy.
If your kid loves to swim, sign them up for a swim team. If they love to dance, enroll them in a dance class. Is it soccer that they’re passionate about? Put them on a soccer team. If they feel passionate about something, it doesn’t feel like hard work, and they’ll look forward to it.
You can try to sign your kids up for different sports and programs to see which physical activities they love the most. Allow them to experiment and find something they love. Apart from that, you can do family activities together like kayaking or playing basketball. Aside from getting exercise, you get to bond during these activities, too. When you do things together, the kids will enjoy it and associate positive memories with exercise. As a result, they feel more inclined to make it a life-long habit.
Provide Them With a Safe and Comfortable Environment
As a parent, it’s your job to provide your children with a safe and comfortable environment to exercise. If you encourage them to play sports, make sure they have the proper safety gear to avoid injuries.
In addition, you have to invest in comfortable clothing and proper footwear. It can be quite icky to endure the sticky wet feeling in normal house clothes. Hence, if you want your children to keep on enjoying moving and sweating it out, buy them appropriate wear for exercise.
Go online shopping so they can choose comfy moisture-wicking clothes in the designs they like and feel most comfortable in. In addition, having the right workout gear will keep them motivated to perform well.
Choose an Age-Appropriate Activity
If you have children in different age groups, you have to plan ahead. Create a calendar and list down convenient times and ways for them to exercise. On top of that, you must keep their development in mind and choose physical activities that match their age group.
To illustrate, a 7-year-old may not be ready for lifting heavy weights or running for a long time. However, activities like playing soccer, riding a bike, doing cardio dance, or swimming will work better. For younger kids, providing active toys like balls and jump ropes will do the trick. And don’t forget to play with your children and have fun in each other’s company.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors Together
By introducing your kids to the great outdoors in a fun and exciting way that allows them to learn to love the beauty of nature, they’ll want to get outside and exercise. The great outdoors is a vast playground waiting to be enjoyed.
Apart from being the perfect setting for workouts with fresh oxygen, nature is very calming, serene and stunning. In fact, studies show that “earthing” has a lot of benefits like boosting the mood, relieving stress, and improving energy levels. You can try different outdoor activities with the whole family. Check out these outdoor activity ideas below:
- Hiking a scenic nature trail
- Going on bike rides
- Swimming at the beach or at the lake
- Beach volleyball
- Playing frisbee in your garden
- Kayaking or canoeing together
Set a Family Schedule
Organize a family schedule involves exercising as a family. Prioritize making time for exercise, even if it is just starting a simple program three times per week. Be mindful not to overschedule, especially if the kids have homework and other extracurricular activities like music lessons or math mentorship. Exercise must not impinge on schoolwork, so keep everything balanced.
Keep in mind: physical activity should be fun and should not feel burdensome. If it becomes too stressful and painful for your children, slow down the pace or switch to a less vigorous intensity level. Be careful not to overdo things so your kids will not feel as if exercise is a punishment.
With an activity set carved out on the family schedule, you get the bonus of limiting your children’s screen time. Instead of being glued to their tablets, TV, computers or video games, you can all make time for physical activity. No excuses!
Stay Active and Fit for Life
Speak with your children about the benefits of exercise and remind them that it’s for their health and vitality. Regardless of their weight or size, everyone must live an active lifestyle to stay fit and healthy. In addition, as a family, you must support one another and strive hard to reach optimal wellness.
Aside from incorporating an exercise program, it is vital to keep healthy media screen habits and eat a clean diet. Aim for at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day and drink the recommended 8 glasses of water. When you provide a strong foundation for a healthy lifestyle in your children’s early life, they will likely keep this routine into adulthood.
Encourage healthy habits in children by showing them how it’s done. It is never too late to start a workout program. If you are not sure how to do it, seek your doctor’s advice so you can begin a gentle workout program that slowly builds up your stamina.
You may also consider getting the whole family to do a DNA test like CircleDNA, to find out what everyone’s optimal sport is based on their DNA. Healthy living is the best gift you can give your children because it will last their whole life. Teach them to love exercise from a young age, don’t let them sit around the house all day, and they’ll grow up to be in the habit of exercising often. As a parent, inspiring your kids to love exercise is one of the greatest gifts you’ll ever give them.