Kids are natural balls of energy, but sometimes they need a little nudge to get off the couch and move. Whether your little one is like a human tornado with energy to spare or a worn-out couch potato at the end of the day, sneaking in extra physical activity is a winning strategy for all (hello, good night’s sleep!). Here are some fun ways to make fitness part of your family’s DNA.
The fastest way to kick-start an active afternoon? Go outside! Whether it’s chasing butterflies, throwing a Frisbee, playing catch, collecting rocks, jumping rope or building a snowman, just being outside as a family is naturally conducive to active play. Classic games like tag, hopscotch, hide-and-seek and tug of war are physically challenging for little ones and grownups alike. No access to a yard? Spend the day at the zoo or plan another pedestrian-friendly excursion. Ride bikes and scooters or take a good old-fashioned stroll through your neighborhood. Kids are never too young to be part of the family fitness routine. Babies can easily join on walks, either in strollers or strapped to your chest. The bottom line? Combining fitness with the outdoors is all but guaranteed to add movement to your kid’s day.
Race against the clock
Racing against siblings may seem like a good idea, but is almost always ill-advised. Turn chores into a race against the clock instead! Set a timer, pick a task like putting away folded laundry or picking up strewn-about toys, and see if you can beat the clock as a team. Older kids can help with changing bed sheets or washing dishes, too. Playing fast-paced music – freeze dance style – will up the anticipation even more. Five- to ten-minute increments work particularly well in terms of keeping kids fully engaged, but you can do shorter or longer spurts too. Chore challenges add a rush of adrenaline-fueled energy to the day, and you’ll get to cross at least one to-do off your seemingly endless list. Everyone wins!
Impromptu dance party
Choose a specific time of day, or randomly surprise your kids with an unexpected blast of their favorite songs. As soon as the music starts, exclaim “Dance party!” Essentially, you’re giving them permission to stop, drop what they’re doing (even if it’s homework), and DANCE! I worked in an office long ago that had a similar ritual every Friday at 5pm. Even though we all expected the “Friday song,” it was still met with delight because it signaled the long-awaited start to the weekend (and no, it wasn’t a dance party, but it was still fun!). In the same way, a planned “impromptu” dance party can signal the start of something, too – like dinner or their bath routines. Either way, your kids will love moving and grooving with mom and dad.
Just add water
The therapeutic effect of water is undeniable – there’s nothing like a bubble bath or quick dip in the pool to wash away a cranky mood. Water can also add an energizing burst of activity to a little one’s day. Set up a DIY car wash in the driveway (you can have them wash toys or bicycles if the car is too ambitious). Turn on the sprinklers and run through them with abandon. Throw some water balloons or dash around the backyard with squirters. One thing’s for sure — no kid can resist a good water fight (just be sure they put on slip-proof shoes)!
Find the right sport
The best way to increase physical activity, of course, is to embrace a sport. Team sports are not for everyone, so let your child explore different athletic pursuits until he finds one that brings him joy (or decides against sports altogether). It’s not about being competitive but having fun. He may surprise you with his preference for tennis over basketball or swimming over gymnastics. Be his biggest cheerleader regardless of whether his choice aligns perfectly with yours. He may be your mini you — but remember that he’s not you.
Lead by example
When it comes to staying active, strive to be a good role model for your kids. If they see you carving time out for yourself and making exercise a priority, chances are they’ll want to follow suit — even if this behavior is modeled simply by parking the car at the far end of the parking lot or taking the stairs when possible. Instilling an active lifestyle is more important than ever with childhood obesity rates climbing and screen time becoming more prevalent and intrusive in kids’ daily lives. Children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, but many favor sedentary pursuits instead. Setting healthy limits is the first step (that includes putting our own devices down), and making fitness a priority is the next.
An active lifestyle requires proper hydration, so don’t forget to drink plenty of water and encourage your kids to do the same. Our fruit infusers, Miracle cups and Parent & Me water bottle sets are perfect for kids and grownups on the go. Cheers to stepping away from the TV, putting down the devices and heeding the call for some heart-pumping fun!