Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by Ochsner Baton Rouge and written by Dr. Christopher P. Guarisco.
How to Get Your Kids to Exercise with You
Sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to get the family up and moving, but it can be a fun family activity! Drawing inspiration from Father’s Day, June 20, why not turn exercise into bonding time for Dad, you and the kids? For many parents, getting out of the house and being active is a way to get a little “me time.” But in the spirit of Father’s Day, why not try to include the entire family next time you go to the gym, the court or the great outdoors?
Benefits of exercise
Why is physical activity beneficial for children? Keeping your children active can help reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other health conditions. Early activity fosters fundamental skill development. Running, skipping, hopping, jumping, catching and throwing all build strength, flexibility, endurance, coordination and balance, independence and a sense of self.
Research also shows that physically active children perform better in school. The brain health benefits include improved memory and reduced symptoms of depression. Also, encouraging the importance of exercise at an early age can aid in developing long-term healthy habits.
Here are a few tips on how to get your child to exercise with the family.
- Be a role model.
Parents are natural role models for children. They want to walk and talk like you, and hopefully, live a healthy life like you too! It’s easy for kids to want to be active if they see their parents living a healthy lifestyle. Parents can ride bikes with their kids, go on a walk, play football, go swimming or ask them to work out during a fitness routine. The possibilities are endless! According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children age 6 and older require at least an hour a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity.
- Involve them in household chores.
This is a sneaky way to get your child active as well as teaching them responsibilities. Your child can help with washing cars, picking up toys, vacuuming, sweeping or putting away dishes.
- Limit TV and online gaming.
It’s important to put a limit on your child’s screen and video game time (even if sometimes you like playing, too). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours of screen time for children and teenagers and no screen time for children under 2. The extra free time will inspire them to find other activities. Encourage them to play outside or join you and Dad in the backyard for a homemade obstacle course.
- Buy gifts that encourage movement.
Give toys that inspire physical activity. Gift ideas include rollerblades, a skateboard, trampoline, basketball goal or video games that encourage physical activity through virtual sports and dancing.
- Have family field trips.
Take kids on a socially distanced adventure to the park, zoo, miniature golf or the aquarium. If you want a field trip that requires less time and money, go on a walk around the neighborhood, and take new routes each time to keep your child interested.
- Make it competitive and set a goal.
Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned competition? Discuss the importance of physical activity with your child and set age-appropriate goals. The goal can be to play outside for at least one hour every day or have an hourlong dance party every night with the family. If they can achieve this goal for a week or month, reward them with a gift or dinner at their favorite restaurant. Rewarding your child for achieving a goal will help motivate them to continue making healthy habits.
Dr. Christopher Guarisco graduated with Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Lambda Upsilon honors from LSU in Baton Rouge. He earned his medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans and completed his internship and residency at Ochsner Medical Center. Dr. Guarisco has been on staff at Ochsner since 1994.