Tips to help your kids love fitness! This kids fitness post was originally my guest post at Parade Magazine Online
Help your kids love fitness
As parents, we wear so many hats: nurse, chauffer, cook, maid…We often overlook a very important aspect of our children’s health: how much physical activity our kids are getting each day.
Encouraging your kids to stay active can be a challenge when there are so many other things competing for time. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services recommends children and teens ages 6-17 get 60 minutes of activity daily, but only 1 in 3 children actually meet this recommendation.
Figuring out how to get your children moving doesn’t have to be a chore: here are 5 practical tips to get your child moving and loving fitness.
1. Encourage Family Connection through fitness
Find ways to make fitness a family affair: take your kids on walks and hikes, sign up to do races together, or take fitness classes together. Physical activity is a great way to build family relationships and team work.
2. Model healthy behavior
The single best way to encourage your kids to get involved in fitness is to model that healthy behavior. Talk positively about fitness and share the feel-good benefits of exercise. Kids learn so much by watching the adults in their lives: if they see you enjoying an active lifestyle, they are more likely to embrace it as well.
3. Encourage variety and choice
If your kids like sports, try not to pressure them into one particular sport. Encourage them to try many sports throughout the year and find activities they feel passionate about. Letting kids choose their sport or activity can go a long way in keeping them motivated to participate in the long term.
4. Encourage unstructured play and fun
Find ways to make fitness fun! Playing traditional games like tag and hopscotch at the park or going on a scavenger hunt are fun ways to get moving. If there is bad weather outside, try some activity based video games. Or just throw on some fun music and have a dance fest with your kids! Kids and adults stick to physical activity when they think it’s fun!
5. Limit Screen time
More time spent in front of the television, computer, tablet, or phone means less time spent moving. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time to no more than 1 or 2 hours daily for children over 2 years old, and they discourage media use entirely by children less than 2 years of age.
Find ways for kids to get creative and active when they are bored rather than tuning in: arts, crafts, games, books, and fun fitness activities are a great use of time that encourages personal growth in your kids.
There are so many benefits for your child when they stay physically active: it can boost confidence, build determination and character, improve sleep quality, and raise concentration and academic performance. While it takes some effort on everyone’s part to get the ball rolling, the benefits are worth it.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Youth Physical Activity Guidelines Toolkit http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/physicalactivity/guidelines.htm
 President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition: http://www.fitness.gov/resource-center/facts-and-statistics/
 Mayo Clinic: Children and TV: Limiting your child’s screen time http://www.mayoclinic.org/children-and-tv/art-20047952