Fitness — How do Parents Encourage Children to Be More Active?

Kids jumpingMaking exercise a family activity can have physical and social benefits for everyone. Some suggestions for making exercise a part of everyday family life:

  • When possible, encourage walking or biking to destinations, instead of driving.
  • Plan weekly family outings that incorporate physical activity such as hiking or biking.
  • Concentrate on the positive aspects of fitness and try to discourage too much competitiveness.

Remember that exercise isn't just traditional calisthenics; activities such as skating and bowling can also provide the health benefits of physical activity without being considered as boring as some other types of exercise.

When promoting fitness for children, it's also important to realize that they are individuals; what one sibling adapts to, may not be appropriate for another child. Some children enjoy team sports; others dislike regulated events. It's a good idea to encourage children to explore a wide variety of activities. But it's also important to find out what each individual child enjoys most and to encourage him or her to stick with it.

If you're a parent and it's been awhile since you've exercised, use common sense before trying something new and check with a doctor when appropriate. Family activity can be fun, energizing and the rewards will be well worth it.

Article written by Kristin Anderson, Fitness/Living Well Coordinator, South Suburban Parks and Recreation