Less than 24 percent of children ages 6-17 get at least 60 minutes of exercise a day. (1)
Unfortunately, a lack of exercise can lead to low energy, not to mention serious health problems down the road.
So the question is, “How do you get your kids to be more active?”
Between the computer, video games and phones, you have a lot of competition.
However, with the right approach, you can get almost any kid to improve their physical activity and health.
Here’s how:

Challenges That Keep Kids From Being Active

As kids grow older, the competition for exercise gets stiff, including:
  • Schoolwork
  • Extracurricular clubs and activities
  • Volunteering
  • Busy families
At the same time, some kids stop wanting to participate in physical activities when they realize they aren’t as good as other kids.
A lack of role models can be an issue too…
After all, if the adults in their life don’t exercise, why should they?
To top it all off, school-age children used to have more freedom to roam the neighborhood, but nowadays parents like to keep them closer to home.
Oh, the times they are a-changing, and it’s leading to a more sedentary lifestyle.

Choose Activities That Are Right for Their Age

When you’re brainstorming ways to get your kids more active, it’s important to consider where they’re at in their development.
For example, a 7-year-old isn’t ready for a long-distance run, but they might play soccer until the cows come home.
Preschoolers, however, aren’t able to understand the complex rules of soccer.
For them, it’s best to stick to simple activities like playing catch, tag, follow-the-leader, or running obstacle courses.
Teens, of course, can handle just about anything as long as they have an interest in it.

Mood, Physical Activity and Health

It’s no secret…the brain loves exercise.
For starters, exercise boosts BDNF, a protein that helps the brain form new connections. (2)
The good news is, it only takes 20 minutes of vigorous exercise to stimulate the brain.
Ultimately, physical activity can have a major impact on mood too…
For example, exercise balances hormones and reduces stress.
At the same time, it lowers inflammation, which is strongly linked to disorders like depression. (3)
There’s a lot to gain from physical activity, but how do you get your kids to actually do it?
Let’s take a closer look…

10 Tips to Get Your Kids to Exercise More

Kids are motivated by one thing: FUN!
What’s fun for them depends on their age and the types of opportunities you provide them.
Kids need you to sign them up for sports teams and take them on hikes.
However, the fact is that kids won’t do something unless they’re enjoying it.
Here are ten helpful tips to promote physical activity and health in your family:

1. Lead By Example

Kids model what their parents do.
That goes for how they treat people, what they eat, and how they exercise.
If they see you going on runs every day, they’re going to want to join in.
Just make sure it doesn’t look like punishment and smile when you work out!
At the same time, talk positively about how much you enjoy your workouts.
Kids are always listening, even when it doesn’t seem like they are.
Embrace exercise, and they’ll soak it up like a sponge.

2. Play Games

When kids are having fun, they don’t even notice that their lungs are burning and their muscles are aching.
Ultimately, games are a great way to disguise exercise.
Not all kids enjoy organized sports, but plenty of them enjoy simple games like tag and dodgeball.
Keep the focus on fun and they’ll exercise the day away.

3. Exercise with Friends

Make exercise social!
Kids enjoy activities more when their friends are involved.
The next time you arrange a playdate, try to do it in a place that encourages physical activity, like a playground.
The best part is, exercising with friends forms early feel-good memories, so they’ll be more likely to carry a positive relationship with physical activity and health into adulthood.

4. Exercise With Your Kids

Why not get the whole family involved?
If your kid joins a sports team, volunteer as a coach.
However, organized sports don’t have to be involved — you can always plan your own events instead.
Organize a neighborhood kickball game or get the family out on the trail.
Inviting everyone to participate makes regular exercise feel like the norm.

5. Walk or Bike as Transportation

You have to get to the grocery store somehow, right? So why not walk or bike?
Some towns are more spread out than others, but if it’s doable and you have the extra time, use exercise as transportation.
Or in a pinch, you can park your car at the far end of the parking lot and get some extra steps in.

6. Give Presents That Incorporate Exercise

What kid doesn’t love gifts?
A new bicycle gives them a sense of independence and a sense of pride in mastering a new skill.
There are also rollerblades, soccer balls, active video games, laser tag sets, and all sorts of other toys to try.

7. Pick the Right Time

Timing is everything when it comes to getting kids active.
For example, right after school is a great time to burn off some extra energy.
After all, they’ve been sitting all day.
Right after dinner is a great time to play a game too, since everyone is already together.

8. Go On Vacations That Promote Exercise

Family trips are exciting, memorable times, and they’re great opportunities to exercise together.
The trick is to pick a destination that offers the right activities, like swimming, canoeing, cycling, or skiing.
Only one-in-five homes have parks within half-a-mile, so it’s good to get out in nature whenever you can. (4)

9. Limit Screen Time

Electronic devices can suck your children in and not let go.
That’s why it’s important to limit on-screen time if you want to maximize physical activity.
According to the Center for Disease Control, almost one-third of high school students play video games for over three hours a day.
At the same time, children of all ages spend over seven hours in front of some sort of screen. (5)

10. Get a Dog

If you don’t already have one, consider adopting a dog.
Our four-legged friends love getting out and about, and they can be a great motivator for exercise.
Make your kids responsible for stretching their legs every day.

What’s Your Kid’s Fitness Personality?

Kids have different attitudes toward physical activity.
Oftentimes, it depends on how much they excel at an early age.
After all, it’s a lot more fun to play tag if nobody can catch you.
At the same time, some kids just love certain sports, even if they aren’t very good.
Non-athletes, or kids who aren’t good at and dislike sports, need non-competitive physical activities to enjoy.
Casual athletes, on the other hand, might do best in a less competitive league where they can still participate without feeling discouraged.
They might enjoy shooting hoops in the backyard, but the last thing they want to do is run drills.
Athletes, however, thrive on the intensity of competition.
They can spend hours doing drills at home, and getting them to exercise is easy as pie.
As a parent, it’s your job to know where your kid lies, and gently encourage them without burning them out.
Ultimately, if they’re getting moderate exercise for at least an hour a day, it’s a win.

Consequences of Not Getting Enough Exercise

Active kids thrive, and inactive kids grow into unhealthy adults with shorter lifespans.
Anyone who’s seen kids on the playground knows that physical activity comes naturally.
However, due to self-esteem issues and bad habits, this can change over time.
If your child becomes overweight while they’re still an adolescent, they have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight as an adult. (6)
Yikes!
This is scary news because obesity is linked to a ton of health problems, including: (7)
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Kidney disease
…and many more.
However, the short-term consequences aren’t pretty either:
For starters, kids who don’t exercise can have a hard time paying attention in class.
At the same time, lack of physical activity can lead to low energy and higher rates of mental health issues.
Fortunately, you can promote physical activity and health by following the simple tips in this article.
If you have any more questions about how to get your kids to be more active, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.