How to Inspire Kids to Exercise

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"How can I motivate my child to do more exercise?" Parents often ask me. "Play with them," is my answer. This may seem simplistic, but it works. Children, up until their teenage years anyway, enjoy spending time with their parents: providing the parent is present mentally and emotionally as well as physically. Here are three tips on how to inspire your children to exercise so that they look forward to being healthy and active.

3 Tips To Inspire Your Child To Exercise

If you are out in the yard or park with your child and dealing with work emails or sharing pictures on social media, then you are physically present but emotionally absent. Your child knows this. Fifteen minutes of quality play and attention will make the trip outside fun and rewarding; they will want to go back again.

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Inspiration Before Perspiration

"How can I motivate my child to do more exercise?" Parents often ask me. "Play with them," is my answer. This may seem simplistic, but it works. Children, up until their teenage years anyway, enjoy spending time with their parents: providing the parent is present mentally and emotionally as well as physically. Here are three tips on how to inspire your children to exercise so that they look forward to being healthy and active.

3 Tips To Inspire Your Child To Exercise

Tip 1: Switch off your smartphone.

If you are out in the yard or park with your child and dealing with work emails or sharing pictures on social media, then you are physically present but emotionally absent. Your child knows this. Fifteen minutes of quality play and attention will make the trip outside fun and rewarding; they will want to go back again.

Tip 2: Have a variety of sporting toys to play with.

The environment is crucial when encouraging children to play. It doesn't require a lot of money either. Here are some essentials: Softballs of different shapes and sizes for smaller hands to throw and catch (rolled-up socks work too); skipping rope (one for parents too); a wheeled vehicle to help them keep up on walks (scooter, balance bike, skateboard); different bats/ racquets to help striking.

You can roll up a magazine and tape it tight, and have your child throw a screwed-up piece of paper at you. That is your indoor softball game. Their coordination needs to develop so balloons are great for them to practice (and ornament friendly).

If your child has lots of playtime with these homemade items, they develop skills that give them confidence when they are then asked to do more organized activities at school.

Children learn by watching and then doing. They will perform the activity for a short time and then want to move on to something different. This is perfectly suited for the home environment. It is less suited for an hour of adult-led coaching, especially at a young age. Fifteen minutes of play and then they can do reading, crafts or help you do the housework!

Tip 3: Train with your child rather than them training with you.

The keen endurance- sports parent can be seen taking their child for runs and bike rides. The child will comply because they want to spend time with Mum and Dad but you risk them dropping out completely as and when they get older.

Children play more like sprinters: they perform short bursts of activity and then take a rest. No child goes to the park to play with their friends and runs laps. If you devote some of your training time to playing with your child on their terms, you can develop your speed and agility with them.

Here are some ideas that could help add some freshness to your training, but more importantly, help your child develop their fitness in a way that is appropriate to their age and stage of development.

Ideas To Freshup Your Childs' Fitness

Fetch: A good opportunity for you to combine throwing with your child. Get any throwing object like a tennis ball or frisbee and throw it as far as you can. Both of you run to the object and then the other person throws it as far as they can. Continue across the park and then return. Alternatively, one of you throw and fetch and return and then the other person takes their turn. The former is more continuous, the latter has the benefit of shortening the sprint distance for the less able thrower.

Tag: A classic, which is surprisingly hard. This is what kids live for. Have some "safe" areas but set a time limit on how long they can spend there. A smaller space means more short sprints but more agility. A larger space means longer sprints, and adults get the advantage.

Crawling: Working on the reciprocal arm and leg action, hip and shoulder strength, and coordination. You can either crawl for 5- 10 meters and then get up and run, which works on acceleration, or you can crawl in as many different ways as possible in a smaller space. For example: forwards, backward, sideways, hips up, hips down, on 1 hand/ 2legs or 2 hands/ 1 leg. You can either race or match what your child is doing.

With these three ideas in place, you will hopefully have fun, bond with your child, and inspire them to move more often.

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Topics: PARENTS | YOUTH ATHLETES