We all want what's best for our children. We try to provide them with the best snacks, the best school supplies and the best toys. What about the best healthy lifestyle habits: EXERCISE? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that children 3-5 years old should "be physically active throughout the day for growth and development[...] Children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 need to be active for 60 minutes every day" (CDC 2023). Not sure how to start? Here are a few tips to get your kiddos moving!
Start exercising yourself! You need to expose them to exercise and set the example. Children will naturally be curious about what you are doing. If they see you doing it, they will want to do it. You can also get other loved ones and care-takers involved!
Start now! You don't need to wait until they are a certain age; the sooner, the better. If you start when they're young (and are consistent), it will be a normal part of their lives. This will help normalize exercise as a regular activity. Children emulate what they see and if they see people they look up to and are exposed to often doing exercise, this will reinforce the behavior.
Make it fun! Nobody said you had to do anything crazy. Simple things that kids really enjoy include a game of tag, jumping, skipping, galloping and hopping. When you turn exercise into a game, children are much more likely to engage and want to repeat the activity on a regular basis.
Don't force them! The moment it stops being fun, switch gears and try a different activity.
My daughters have watched me exercise since before they could walk! They love being active and they request workouts on demand. They always crash my workouts and we actually had to install a safety gate to keep them out of our home gym. It really used to irritate me that I couldn't get through a workout on my own at home. I later realized that I was helping them create a positive relationship with exercise so I made my peace with it. I'm so glad that I have helped them create healthy habits AND YOU CAN TOO!
Here's some homework: Start a game of tag. The only rule is: the parent is IT! They love getting chased and that means that they will be doing most of the work. Side effects include the giggles, happiness and ,in some cases, a slightly earlier bedtime 😉