The first week of August marks National Exercise With Your Child Week, and staying active together can help children build confidence, while teaching them the importance of physical activity for good health and happiness.
Antoinette “Ant” Gemo and Francis Estrada know. Gemo is mom to daughters Nicki, 12, and Jacey, 11 and she’s responsible for Group Fitness programming and partnerships at 24 Hour Fitness. Estrada says he’s known as “the fun uncle.” Here are some ideas Gemo and Estrada have found successful for motivating the littles (and not-so-littles) in your life to get moving with you.
- Turn up the music and boogie! Hold disco nights with kids. You can even do this with friends, neighbors and family on Zoom! Choose a playlist from Spotify, YouTube or Apple Music and let your kids take turns using a flashlight as a strobe light.
- Go for pre- or post-dinner walks. Building a walk into your daily schedule ensures that it won’t get put off. Take evening walks with your toddler and alternate time in and out of the stroller.
- Celebrate special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries with something active. Try a hike, a volleyball or soccer game, or playing Frisbee at the park.
- Have a weekly workout night. Every Wednesday, for example, get everyone up and moving. One game to play is the fit-deck shuffle. Every suit in the deck of cards represents a different exercise and the card value equals the number of reps. Example: You flip over a 10 of hearts … you do 10 push-ups. All face cards represent a cardio move and you do 20 reps of the move.
- Walk or run for charity! Model the value of exercise and giving back to society by teaming up with your children for a fundraising effort. Many charity and race events have gone virtual, so you can raise donations for your favorite cause on your own Spartan race or 5k run.
- Give your children toys that encourage physical activity. Plastic balls that they can kick or throw, a jump rope, or a jungle gym for climbing will not only make children want to play outside, but keep them active and help develop their physical skills.
- Sneak workouts into other activities. Have your toddler walk instead of riding in the cart at the supermarket, and take the stairs or walk up the escalator whenever possible.
- Make a game out of household chores and yard work. See how many or how few passes with the broom or the vacuum cleaner will clear the floor; do squats and rainbows when soaping up the car. Later in the year, if autumn brings down leaves in your area, make a game out of catching them. After a snowfall, let your kids help clear the walkway, then see who can make the most snow angels or build a snowman and even toss a few snowballs.
- Take up a new hobby together! It could be a sport like tennis or gardening, where kids can dig up dirt and help plant new flowers.
- Schedule neighborhood contests. Jump rope, hula hoop and hopscotch are great options. Each hopscotch square can contain its own extra activity: Land on the second square and do five jumping jacks.
Kids are like sponges and will emulate what they see their parents do, as they go through their daily lives. Making a healthy lifestyle more of a priority for your family starts with you, and setting good fitness examples for the kiddos.
Photo credit: Sue Zeng, Unsplash