A No-Sweat Guide to Getting Your Kid to Exercise

Julie Ryan Evans
Big Kid

girl rock climbingIt's difficult enough to motivate ourselves to get the exercise we know we need to be healthy and strong, but when it comes to getting our children moving, the battle can be even greater. Summer can prove especially challenging without the structure of school gym classes and sports teams, and you may find yourself incessantly trying to prod and persuade your kids to get up and off the couch.

Some children naturally gravitate toward exercise and activity, while others need a little more encouragement. Sometimes mentioning the word exercise is the only way to get them running, so you have to be a bit creative in getting them to do it. Here are five ways to get your exercise-adverse child exercising without too much sweat from you:

1. Set the example. This may take a bit of sweat from you, but it's perhaps the most effective method. Let them see you exercise and enjoy it. Ask them to join you on a jog or try a yoga tape together. It will motivate you both.

2. Let them play. If video games are their thing, make them active ones. We just got an Xbox Kinect; you control all movements in the game with only your body. My son runs, jumps, kicks, and is a sweaty mess when he's done. We still limit his time playing, but he thinks he's just playing, when really he's getting a simultaneous workout.

3. Find something they love. Whether it's karate, hockey, yoga, rock climbing, or gymnastics, there's sure to be an active activity they like. Remember, all sports don't happen on fields and courts. It may take some exploring and trial and error, but once they find something they enjoy, they'll stop making any excuses to exercise.

4. Build it into family activities. If you're going to the beach, bring a Frisbee and ball along with the sand toys. If you're headed to a family picnic, load up the basket on your bicycles and ride there. In most anything you do, there's a way to build in some extra activity.

5. Make it mandatory. While you want to make it fun, you can also make exercise as non-negotiable as brushing their teeth or eating their vegetables. Children need to know that exercise is just as important to their health as these things.

How do you encourage your children to exercise?

Image via stevendepolo/Flickr

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