4 Ways to Get Your Kids on Their Feet

Teaching your children the importance of exercise in a post-Netflix world can be challenging.

25% percent of Australian children aged between two and 16 are classified as overweight or obese1, which is a major risk factor for the development of Type 2 diabetes.

So how can you cut through the clutter of iMessage, SnapChat, and the latest Nintendo game to encourage your kids to get up and get active?

The world beyond the byte

When it comes to motivating kids to be active, the key is to choose activities that don’t seem like ‘exercise’, in the traditional sense. It needs to be fun, inclusive, and easy to get started.

1. Unleash your inner child

Do you remember what you used to do for fun as a kid? Childhood is about exploration and discovering what motivates you. Get creative and unleash your inner child to come up with fun new ways to make fitness as easy and natural for your kids to enjoy as possible.

Does your child enjoy a challenge or have a naturally competitive spirit? Invite their friends and other parents over for a game of bull rush or tag against the adults. Or, why not let them run wild with some water bombs in the backyard for some extra summer-time fun?

Is your child a quiet explorer or artistically inclined? Go for a walk together through your local neighborhood or nearest beach collecting special shells, leaves, or feathers to create a scrapbook or handmade keepsake.

2. Go, go, go walking

If you can’t get your kids to put their phone down to exercise, Pokémon Go may be the answer. The popular smartphone game uses real-time GPS to encourage users to hit the streets to seek out rare Pokemon, Poké Stops (local landmarks) and training gyms. Walking is the only way to hatch the prized Poké Eggs, so there is potential for your kids to rack up 2 -5kms in one session.  But don’t miss out on the fun, catch ‘em all together!

Given this activity involves stepping outside the bounds of the backyard, it is best played when supervised by a parent. By setting some basic boundaries and common sense rules of play, children can enjoy this fun interactive game while also increasing their daily step count.

3. Give a little to get a little

Outdoor charity fun runs and walks have swept Australia – combining live entertainment, silly costumes, exercise and fundraising into one big family-friendly event.

Your kids won’t have to race at all if they don’t want to…they can walk, skip, hop, or jump along the course while doing their bit for a good cause. But the lead up to the event is perhaps even more beneficial than the big day itself.

Choosing a charity to support, fundraising, setting goals, and training in the lead up to the event are all great lessons for self-motivation in later life.

4. Limit screen-time

Kids are always watching and learning from the behavior they see around them, so be sure to lead by example when it comes to limiting screen-time. Ask yourself; how often do you check your phone? Is family time or dinner usually spent around the TV?

Getting kids actively involved in day-to-day house chores can also be a good way to reduce screen usage and increase incidental activity. Gardening, helping to fold or hang out the washing, and wiping down bench tops are all great ways to get the kids off the couch – and can double as an incentive to watch their favourite TV show as a reward.

Remember, encouraging life-long healthy habits is about fostering a positive and fun environment from the start. Don’t force it or demand they stick with a certain activity if it doesn’t work for them – all that matters is that they try hard and find an exercise or sport they enjoy.

 

1 https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/health-topics/obesity-and-overweight

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