Children of all ages need physical activity to grow and develop into healthy, strong adults. With the growing prevalence of sedentary lifestyles, how can we encourage children to get the necessary regular exercise? Parents and nannies are also seeking ways to increase their physical activity, so here are 6 ways to exercise with your kids.
- Morning Walk. Get out of bed 30 minutes early and take a walk around the neighborhood before everyone goes their separate ways to school and work. While walking at a steady pace, talk with your children about their plans for the day, discuss books, movies or other topics of interest to them or simply chat about their favorite things. You can do this every day or 2-3 times a week. Just be sure to schedule it and let everyone know their participation is required.
- Pool Aerobics. When you and the family are going to the pool – set a specific period (maybe the first 20-30 minutes) for a family aerobics session in the water. Water aerobics is simply exercising in waist-deep water. There is no swimming involved; it consists of doing jumping jacks, running, scissor kicks and other exercises that use the water to create resistance. There are several videos that can show you routines or you can create your own. Pool aerobics can easily be turned into a game for younger children or a friendly competition between older kids.
- Ride a Bike. Family bike rides are a great way to exercise together, especially if your community has bike trails. The family can sit down beforehand and map out a route. You can also discuss what you need to take with you and make sure everyone wears a helmet. Always take plenty of water so everyone stays hydrated. Depending on the length of the ride, you may want to take snacks or plan for a picnic or restaurant meal. Even a short ride around the neighborhood can be beneficial. Just make sure to schedule it regularly.
- Circuit Games. Creating a training circuit in the yard is also a fun way to exercise and can be customized to the age of the children. Circuit training involves doing one exercise for 30 seconds to 5 minutes and then moving on to the next exercise. Each family member can choose an exercise. For example, Mom can bring out the hula hoop, Dad can put down a mat for pushups, Brother can set up cones to form a short zig-zag running course, and Sister can bring out the jump rope. Set a timer and vigorously exercise at your station. Then when the time is up – rotate to the next station.
- Modified sports. Go to a local park or use your yard to play different sports with your children. Games of tag and keep away involve running and dodging each other. You can take a ball and practice catching and throwing. You may be able to join with other families for a friendly game of soccer or softball.
- Mall Walk. If you live in a climate where the weather may not cooperate with outdoor activities, use your local mall. Walk around the mall at a steady pace (beware of shoppers) and go up or down all the stairs that you see. A good-sized mall may have a ½ mile lap. Four of these would be a good workout for even the youngest in the family. Remember – shopping should be done after the exercise session, not during it.
Regular exercise benefits everyone. It generally makes people feel happier and more energetic; it’s good for developing and maintaining muscles and bones; it even helps brain health and memory. Family exercise sessions benefit all members of the family, teach children healthy lifestyle choices, creates memories that everyone will cherish.
To learn more, a Fitness Basics and Fitness for Child Athlete’s courses are available with enrollment in the Intermediate and Specialist Childcare programs at AmsleeInstitute.com.
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