No matter the season, it’s important to ensure kids get up and moving so they stay on track with their physical fitness! Here are some tips with many that offer the opportunity for some good old-fashioned family time.

Exercising need not be reserved for the outdoors as there is plenty kids can do inside of the house to get fit! Listed below are just a few good ideas.

Indoor fitness activities

  • Walk or run up and down a stairwell multiple times (skip a step for added intensity and effectiveness).
  • Jump rope — yes, indoors too! Just ensure that the child has enough clearance from that cherished vase!
  • Dance! Let the kids “boogie” away the excess weight.
  • Calisthenics (push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, etc.) are great exercise and you can hold a friendly competition!
  • Hula hoop where, again, clearance is key here!
  • Crunches! Sure, let the kids watch TV but challenge them to do as many sit ups as they can while the commercials are on. Do this for at least one full TV program, which usually has at least 3 or 4 commercial breaks.
  • Shadow boxing is a great way to work the arm, leg and core muscles while also getting the heart pumping for some nice calorie-burning cardio. And, it’s fun. Kids will have fun showing you how they can “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.”
  • Yoga (yes, for kids, too!) is great for developing body coordination and balance.
  • Stretching helps with flexibility, which is another sign of a healthy body.

Check YouTube for many fun (and free) online video classes for kids!

Prefer the great outdoors? No problem! Outdoor fitness ideas abound.

  • Take a walk, jog, or hike. Raining? Walk the mall double time!
  • Ride a bike, skateboard, or scooter.
  • Roller skate or in-line skate.
  • Catch a pickup game for basketball, baseball, football, tennis and others that get your heart pumping and muscles working.
  • Swim! Forget doggie paddles; instead, do laps up and down the pool or, for the ambitious types, try the butterfly stroke!
  • Jumping rope is an old standby that offers an array of health benefits.

Take casual activity to the next level and add excitement. Seek out community events, such as a walk-a-thon, bike-a-thon, or even a triathlon that accepts minors. However, competition should not be the focus. Instead, the focus should be on doing one’s best. These events are often in support of a good cause, so children can also learn the value of fundraising and giving to those that are in need. Let children pick a cause that is important to them and make sure the activity matches their physical abilities. Families can even spend a couple of weekends prior to the event “in training,” getting conditioned and practicing team-building skills.

Take advantage of local activity courses. Many area parks and schools are set up with physical activity courses that span across fields and trails with exercises stations interspersed throughout. These courses are good for all ages and levels of fitness. Consider having your child visit these courses during a Saturday morning event with each session having a different theme or pace. For example, “Boot Camp” might be one such theme for your aspiring soldiers. Children can even walk briskly between stations and then attempt to perform given exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, balance beams, etc.) with parent’s encouraging them along the way. Children can set goals, such as trying to beat their time from last week, spotting animals along the route, or finding “treasure” along the way. The course can be followed with a healthy family picnic lunch in the park. Doing so will also teach children how to prepare healthy foods.

Take some lessons. Find an after school program, YMCA, or community center that offers lessons or activities that are physical fitness-oriented. Your options are unlimited and may include tennis, dance, kickboxing, golf, swimming and self-defense. These lessons will help your child become more well-rounded in many areas of fitness and may possibly help them find one that they enjoy and where they might want to take advanced lessons.

Enjoy an “extreme” family vacation. Get your children involved in planning a dynamic family vacation that includes physical activities for everyone, both together as a family and individually. Each family member should be able to plan a physical activity whether it is taking a walking tour of a city, playing volleyball, kayaking, white water rafting, snorkeling, skiing or snow boarding, hiking a trail or climbing a summit. Together, your family can take the months prior to the trip to build up the endurance, strength, and skills necessary to enjoy your active plans. The “vacation” can even be a simple day trip in your own neighborhood or something much more extravagant. Children can save allowance money for “cool” fitness gear or earn money to be used toward the purchase of specialty equipment by achieving physical fitness-oriented goals (like getting a yellow belt in Karate or completing a successful season on the swim team). This will not only teach children about preparation, organization, and planning, but it will also motivate and reward them for engaging in activities that are good for their health.

Article by Merilee Kern

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