How to Introduce Activity to Your Kids

August 11, 2016

Exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As adults, understanding what a healthy lifestyle means becomes easier through experience and education. But what if we started developing the basics of a healthy lifestyle when we were kids?

With so many distractions today, it’s more important than ever for parents to introduce and educate children on the importance of activity. Children and adolescents should be participating in at least one hour of physical activity each day. Though many kids participate in various extracurricular activities throughout the year, there are other positive ways to get kids up and moving.

Let’s take a look at some healthy activities that are great for the kids, and mom and dad, too!

How to introduce activity to your kids

Family Workout 

Sneak some exercise into your kids’ day by incorporating a family workout. Set aside time a few days a week to be active together. Options could be as simple as walking around the block before some strengthening exercise, like planks, yoga stretches, lunges, jumping jacks or sit-ups in the yard. Try a pick-up game of basketball or play catch after supper. 

Taking Your Furry Friend out for a Long Walk 

Does the family dog need some exercise? Take advantage of that opportunity and use it to get in that extra bit of activity while checking out a new dog park. Whether it’s in the mornings, evenings, or on the weekends - get out and make it an event with the kids! 

Dance it Out 

If you watch Dancing With The Stars, you know that professional dancing can be a serious workout. But dancing for fun can burn upwards of 400 calories an hour! Dancing is an excellent way to start or end your day with being active, and a creative outlet for the whole family.

Enjoy a Picnic in the Park 

If a free Saturday or Sunday is in the family's future, go for a picnic at the local park! Pack some healthy snacks and a Frisbee and you are ready to go. Any lawn game will do, have you ever played Laddergolf? Family time, activity, and snacks - what could be better?

Challenge Each Other 

Mix up your family’s activity routine with a lively challenge! Keep track of little exercises you do throughout the week. Have your family write down the number of sit-ups, push-ups, or miles they've walked or run. Award older children who win the contest with a prize at the end of the week. The prospect of a reward will keep the challenge at the top of everyone's mind and encourages each day’s activity.

Take a Bike Ride 

Who doesn’t love a good ol’ family bike ride? Biking is a fun and simple way to get in activity without really thinking about it. (Plus we’ve got some trails you can try, here!) Whether you and your family are avid bikers or leisure riders, both options are beneficial when it comes to getting in activity. 

Backyard Games 

Have fun with the whole family and get active in your own backyard with yard games! The options are endless – play Duck, Duck Goose, create an obstacle course, or even the perfect standby, tag. Everyone will have a chance to let loose, get active and have some good old-fashioned outdoor fun. Some classic outdoor games for older children include capture the flag, red rover, kickball, sardines and red light green light.

Include Friends 

A promising way to get your kids up and active is to get their friends active too! Try scheduling playdates with friends from school, and have activities ready that will get the whole crew laughing and moving.

Post-Dinner Walk 

Encourage a healthy routine by going for a walk after dinner each night. You don't need to travel far, just something to get everyone up and moving after a meal. 

Gaming on the Go 

If it isn’t the season for long strolls, there are lots of gaming systems that require actual movement from players. The Nintendo's Wii console has sports and adventure games that need you to stand and interact with the game. Xbox 360’s Kinect is a motion sensor, which means you have to get up to get gaming! Mobile apps that encourage movement are growing in popularity like the crazy-famous Pokémon Go, or the Taboo-inspired Heads Up!

Bonus Tips! 

  • Getting out and being active is great, but education is a huge factor when it comes to making healthy choices. Make sure you’re sharing helpful insights with kids regularly. Here are a few to start!

  • Teach your children to stretch after activity, and explain why it’s important for your muscles.

  • Try to talk about “activity” with kids, rather than “exercise,” to keep it from sounding like a chore.

  • Celebrate kids’ active accomplishments, and discuss with them why they’re special.

  • While eating healthy snacks, talk about the health benefits of what you’re eating.
  • If kids complain or question about limits set on electronics, try talking about why not enough activity time could be bad for their overall health in the long run. Help them enjoying finding balance in both. 

A little insight from a member of the Long Island Health Collaborative;

“As adults, we recognize that it is very challenging to start leading an active lifestyle when we are trying to balance family, careers and our own personal lives,” says Gina Shalhoub, Community Relations Specialist at the Smithtown Youth Bureau. “We don’t know where to start and don’t know where to fit it in. That’s why I suggest starting to teach children the importance of physical activity with walking, bike riding or wheelchair rolling! All of these are activities families can do TOGETHER, and you don’t have to be an athlete to do them! Try waking up 15 minutes earlier to walk with your child before they head to work or school, or even walk to school! The physical and emotional benefits will begin to add up, and soon, you’ll find both you and your child are more alert and can focus better at work and school as a result!”

Looking for Other Activity Ideas?

The Long Island Health Collaborative has you covered! From local Long Island events to healthy resources, starting or maintaining a healthy lifestyle will be a breeze. And the best part? When you use our interactive user portal, Are You Ready, Feet?™, tracking your health will be fun, easy and give you the opportunity to get rewarded for your hard work!