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Kids Don’t Need Exercise, They Need Fun, Active Play

I think all adults grapple with some sense of guilt from time to time about their current physical state. Whether we need to lose weight or get back in shape or stop eating fast food, from time to time we all know we’re not doing all that we should. But what about when it comes to our kids’ health? While I can justify skipping a workout from time to time, I have no answers to the question, “why did you let your son watch TV nearly all day?” Well, no good answers at least.

I tend to think I’m more conscious about this than some parents, given my days are dominated by a running routine and gym time. However, there are those days that seem to get away from me and before I realize it, my son has spent too much time sitting on the couch. I feel tremendous guilt on these days. If I’m going to take poor care of myself, that’s one thing, but if I don’t give my son a fighting chance to form good health and habits, well, that’s just bad parenting in my opinion.

The beautiful thing about our kids’ fitness is that it’s really just playing. So, instead of kids having to run a treadmill to be healthy, they just need to be encouraged to play. If your kid is like mine, the word exercise sounds no fun, so I try to steer clear of ever using that word around him. Here are some great ideas for keeping your kids healthy and active without them really knowing their exercising.

For starters, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) has recently partnered with Hershey’s to develop a series of videos. The videos are intended to provide inspiration for parents wanting to get their kids active in fun ways. Some of the videos include fun jump rope games, sidewalk chalk obstacle courses, and even hula hoop activities. The ACE Moderation Nation website is a great place to get some fun ideas.

Active Childcare

At our house we like to find active childcare. I’ve been very lucky to find programs like the YMCA’s “Fun Fit” or MyGym’s Kids Night Out. My husband and I use these for morning childcare or even for date night. While we’re busy, we know our son is either playing a huge game of dodge ball or hanging like a monkey from the uneven bars. We love that he has fun, gets tons of exercise, and if it’s been a date night, we really love that he’s ready for bed when we pick him up.

GeoCaching

Another unique active activity we’ve enjoyed is GeoCaching. When my son was learning about latitude and longitude in school, his teacher used GeoCaching as a great way to teach the kids the concepts. His excitement about the activity lead to us going on GeoCaching hunts after dinner nearly all spring. We just loaded a free app on our phones and were shocked to find caches all over the neighborhood. My son was on a treasure hunt and didn’t notice he’d also gone for a really long walk.

Friendly Fitness Challenges

We also like to set up challenges in our home. For instance, none of us can do a cartwheel, so this week we’re determined to master cartwheels as a family. Sometimes a little competition can make physical activity more enticing.

Childhood Memories

My husband and I like to experience things we did as children with our son. When was the last time you bailed out of a swing, climbed a tree, or rolled down a hill? These are all simple and free ways to get guaranteed laughs and exercise with your kids. Trust me, at age 30, I laughed hysterically all the way down the hill!

Don’t over think the task of getting your children healthy. It shouldn’t be difficult and it should certainly be fun!

Oh, and doing these things with them is imperative. We all hear we need to be positive examples for our kids. If I want my son to learn a lifelong habit of exercise, I better nix using that word and start up my hula hoop, no matter how dumb I might look.

Also Read:

An Olympic Marathon Trials Hopeful Turned Her 6-Year-Old in to a 5K Finisher

Candy-Free Potty Training Should be the Norm, Not the Exception

Ideas for Scheduling a Family Play Night

July 25th, 2012

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