There’s no better time than now to get started on a family fitness journey and raise healthy, active kids.
If you’re looking to make healthier choices for your children and teach them how to make healthier choices for themselves, here are six essential tips to help you get started.
Talk to your child’s pediatrician about what kind of fitness is right for them. Going from a low level of activity to an active lifestyle can be a shock to their system. All changes in physical activity should be gradual.
The best way to start your family fitness journey is to create a schedule of activities for two days per week. Plan activities such as hikes, bike rides or indoor/outdoor sports to make them feel less like a chore and more like fun. The more you involve your kids in the planning process, the more enthusiastic they’ll be about the change.
If you have children that rely on computers, phones and tablets, you might face a rebellion if you try to swap gadgets for family fitness time. Instead, you can embrace technology and ease them into an active lifestyle with fitness games and challenges. There are many dance, fitness and activity games available that combine technology with simple tasks that motivate kids to get active.
Remember how much fun it was to play a simple game of catch with your friends when you were younger? As you move towards more traditional fitness-based activities, focus on coordination and body awareness moves. Kids have developing nervous systems and will benefit from engaging their motor skills. Related activities include kicking, catching and hopping.
There are differing opinions on the age at which children should start lifting weights, and it’s a decision that should be discussed with your child’s physician. As an alternative, body weight exercises are a great way for kids to build strength. I started lifting weights at the age of 15 and I am raising my children to have fun with squats, push-ups and other body weight exercises until they are well into their teens.
The greatest gift you can give your children is to lead by example and practice healthy habits. Try popping in a fitness DVD or follow a fitness routine on the computer to set an example. If your young children want to join in, you should let them. Just make sure they stay away from potentially dangerous equipment like weight machines and treadmills.
We can all make healthier choices to lead our children down an active lifestyle path. If you keep the activity fun, you can set them up for a lifetime of being active. However, if you do it with force, they may build a negative opinion of exercise forever. The above tips are ones I use successfully with my own family, but make sure to experiment with different activities so you can find the ones that your whole family will enjoy doing together.