How to motivate a child to exercise

There has been a lot of data showing that Americans, particularly young children are becoming more obese and sedentary. A recent study just came out showing 1 in 5 US adolescents are pre-diabetic. This is a public health crisis and proper diet and exercise is the most beneficial way to control it. 

As a parent, it can be a daunting task, particularly when it is cold outside, to try to encourage your child to exercise. To help you, we've put together some tips: 

1. Be spontaneous and a role model

This goes and hand in hand. There are days when I just want to sit on the couch just like my kid, but instead I tell my 6-year-old, let's go race! Sometimes it's a bike race or a running race and he's always up for a challenge. Even a 10-15 minute spurt is better than nothing. What I find is that starting with a race usually turns into something more. Kids also love being timed and beating the clock.
kid running

2. Kids are in charge 

One of my favorite games to play with my kids is like circuit training but I make them in charge of the exercise. So I tell them they can pick any exercise they want and a (reasonable) number of reps and everyone has to do it. We rotate from one person to the other. For example, my 4-year-old will say 30 frog jumps, then we all do that, then my 6-year-old will say 15 bicycle kicks and we do that. The possibilities are endless -- jumping jacks, yoga moves, crab walk, sit-ups, running, skipping, etc. Let them pick and make it fun! 

boy soccer

3. Try something new together

Letting kids pick what they want to try gives them a feeling of having control. If you need to, give them a few options, but let them know you'll try it with them. A climbing wall, a new exercise class, swimming lessons, tennis -- there's so much you can do together and letting them pick will help make it a fabric of their life. 

4. Make it social 

Going to a family dinner party soon? Maybe you can organize a fun family-against-family soccer match beforehand! Invite your child's friends to a park for baseball or basketball. When their friends are involved they are more likely to have more fun and keep it going. It doesn't always have to be in an organized league ... just play!

5. Give gifts that promote physical activity

There's a ton of gifts that help kids stay active - skates, bikes, balls, trampolines can all be used to promote activity.  We also love activity-tracking wearables to help older ones stay accountable.  For the little ones, check out our list of Top sports toys for toddlers

The benefits of exercise go beyond just fighting diseases. Kids who exercise tend to do better in school as they feel less stressed and develop mental clarity. Just remember, every kid is different. Go at their pace and keep it fun. 

So choose physical activities your kids will enjoy, stay positive and get moving. 

This post was written by Lakshmi

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