Today, we welcome Marci Warhaft-Nadler to the blog to discuss ways parents can introduce an active lifestyle to their children.
A lot of parents write to me asking for advice about how they can make sure their kids are getting enough exercise and the answer is a lot easier than they think: “Let them play!”
The truth is most kids like to play. Whether it’s kicking around a ball, rolling down grassy hills or jumping in puddles, kids usually have lots of energy and just need the freedom to let it loose. Different kids have different interests and it’s important to find out what activities your kids like to do and then encourage them to do it. It’s amazing how many programs are available these days for kids of all ages. Many community centers offer sports programs for even our youngest toddlers and joining a group like that could be a fun way to get new playtime activities while making new friends. As our kids grow up and start spending most of their days at their desks in school, it’s really important that we keep that sense of play alive and kicking. There are so many ways for moms, dads, brothers and sisters to stay active while having tons of fun!
1. Playground Obstacle courses:
My kids always loved these when they were younger and actually STILL love them as they get older!Just head out to your neighbourhood park and use whatever you see to make up silly obstacles for everyone to do. Get creative! Something like this for example: run around the swing set 3 times, do 2 jumping jacks, climb up the jungle gym, spin in circles two times, slide down the slide, run to the bench, step on top of it and yell out the name of your favourite fruit!
The best part is that while mom/dad are creating the courses, they’ll be getting exercise too!
Don’t forget to take turns creating the courses.
2. Take a hike!
Throw some snacks in a backpack, put on your walking or running shoes and explore new areas. You don’t even have to leave your neighbourhood! Sometimes local parks will have short trails you can follow or if you’re feeling really adventurous, look for age appropriate trails a little out of the way. For some reason, nothing tastes better than an outdoor picnic lunch during a family hike.
(Try adding a stroll to your after dinner routine. A nice walk after a healthy meal is a great way to keep the family fit, even if the walk is to the ice cream store for dessert!)
3. Throw a DJ Dance Party in your living room!
The kids pick the music while mom/dad play DJ. The only rule is that EVERYBODY dances!
4. Think you can’t be active while watching TV? How about playing an energetic game of “I dare you to..”
How do you play? It’s easy. While you’re watching TV, instead of watching the commercials or flipping around the channels, dare each other to do silly things that get you out of your seats!
For example: “I dare you to hop around like a kangaroo!”
“I dare you to pretend you’re playing your favourite sport!”
“I dare you to do as many situps as you can until the program comes back !”
The possibilities are endless! Kids need to know that exercise isn’t something bad we do to our bodies because we don’t like them, but something great we do because we love and appreciate them. The more they can enjoy being physically active when they’re young, the more likely they’ll be to stay active as they get older.
Moms and dads: It’s very important that we instil a love and appreciation for fit, healthy bodies right from the beginning so that our kids will always make time for the physical well-being. The more kids can appreciate their bodies for what they can DO, the less focused they’ll be on how they LOOK.
Kids: Feel free to remind your moms and dads how important and fun exercise can be. There are a lot of things that parents can get busy with and it can be easy for them to forget about playtime, but DON’T LET THEM. Parents need to be active too!
Marci Warhaft-Nadler is the Founder of Fit vs Fiction Body Image Workshops. She is also the Author of “The Body Image Survival guide for Parents: Helping Toddlers, Tweens and Teens Thrive” (Available February 2013)