Four Ways to Encourage Your Kids to Exercise

Exercising is key to living a healthy life. Being sedentary or exercising rarely will get you no where fast with health goals, and a lifetime of it will present you with potentially serious health problems. Good exercising habits start early, and many times takes a little gentle prodding or encouraging by parents. Some parents speak in ultimatums, “You can't watch TV until you play outside”, although that can build resentment in the heart of a child more than it does excitement in regards to exercise. So, although ultimatums and commands may work for a period of time, we find that there are better ways to encourage your kids to exercise.

exercising kids

Have a Family Competition

Turning things like exercise into a friendly family competition will make your kids see their progress and to have something physically to strive for, other than the daily monotony of walking or running because they have to. If little Johnny is in a summertime competition with his big brother to see who can run the furthest, he might view the daily task of exercising in a different light. Raise the stakes if they get really involved to offer prizes for first, second and third place. Be careful though that, no matter the outcome, you reward everyone for their hard work. The goal is to have fun with healthy competitive motivation, so if things get too serious or too competitive, you'll want to adjust the situation.

Make It Fun with Games

Most kids don't really view playing sports as their allotted time to exercise. They're with their friends, they're laughing, they're showing their ball skills, they're running around – not exercising. Parents know, though, that this is a great way for them to get some exercise. Recreational sports leagues are great for implementing fun, game-like exercise and provide many benefits, social and physical. If you can't do a recreational league, try this: the next time you ask your kids to go play outside, give them a game to play that involves some exercise; they might just be a little more excited to do it.

Be Honest About the Future

Talk to your kids. Sometimes parents forget to mention the “why” behind their requests or demands. Being honest about their future if they're active versus if they're not is a great way to encourage them to be healthy. Show them people they admire, like professional athletes, fit celebrities or older people who are really in great shape, and let them know that their success was largely determined by their actions when they were children. Be careful not to scare them, but let them know the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, and that no great physical feat is ever really accomplished without a life of exercise leading up to it.

Do It With Them

Many times your kids will do what they see you do; this is why, at the very least, it's important that they see you exercising happily on a regular basis. If you gripe and complain about it, they will too. They'll be even happier to do it, though, if you offer to do it with them. Train your 9 year old to run a 5k. Walk the neighborhood and have some “daddy-daughter time” every evening before dinner. If you make it about quality time, your child will look forward to doing it with you.

Kids only dread exercise when they feel that it takes them from something more fun. Doing it with them, making it a game or a competition, and talking to them about the benefits of exercise are all great ways to encourage them to do it and to keep them happy.

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