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How To Encourage Your Kids To Workout

Anyone who’s seen kids on a playground knows that most of them are naturally physically active. But what might not be apparent is that climbing to the top of a slide or swinging from the monkey bars can help lead kids to a lifetime of being active.

As they get older, it can be a challenge for kids to get enough daily activity. Reasons include increasing demands of school, a feeling that they aren’t good at sports, a lack of active role models and busy, working families.

And even if kids have the time and the desire to be active, parents may not feel comfortable letting them roam the neighbourhood freely as kids did generations ago. In spite of these barriers, parents can instil a love of activity and help kids fit it into their everyday lives. Doing so can set healthy patterns that will last into adulthood.

Benefits of being active

When kids are active through regular exercise, they benefit the following:

  • Strong muscles and bones
  • Weight control
  • Decreased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes
  • Better sleep
  • A better outlook on life

Healthy, physically active kids also are more likely to be academically motivated, alert, and successful. And physical competence builds self-esteem at every age.

The three keys to motivating kids to exercise are;
1. Choosing the right activities for a child’s age; if you don’t, the child may get bored or frustrated.
2. Giving kids plenty of opportunities to be active by providing equipment and taking them to playgrounds and other active spots.
3. Keeping the focus on fun; kids won’t do something they don’t enjoy.

When kids enjoy activities, they want to do more of it. Practicing a skill – whether it’s swimming or riding a tricycle – improves their abilities and helps them feel accomplished, especially when the effort is noticed and praised.

Age-appropriate activities

The best way for kids to get physical activity is by incorporating it into their daily routine. Toddlers and preschoolers should play actively several times a day. Children 6 to 17 years should do 60 minutes or more physical activity daily.

Preschoolers: Preschoolers need play and exercise that helps them continue to develop important motor skills- kicking or throwing a ball, playing tag, hopping on one foot, riding a tricycle or bike with training wheels, freeze dancing, or running obstacle courses. Preschoolers can’t understand complex rules and often lack the attention span, skills, and coordination needed to play sports. Instead of learning to play a sport, they should work on fundamental skills.

Teenagers: Teens have many choices when it comes to activities, from school sports to after-school interests, such as yoga or skateboarding. It’s important to remember that physical activity must be planned and often has to be sandwiched between various responsibilities and commitments.

Do what you can to make it easy for your teen to exercise by providing transportation and the necessary gear or equipment (including workout clothes). In some cases, the right clothes and shoes might help a shy teen feel comfortable biking or going to the gym.

Kids’ fitness personalities

In addition to a child’s age, it’s important to consider his or her fitness personality. Personality traits, genetics, and athletic ability combine to influence kids’ attitudes toward participation in sports and other physical activities, particularly as they get older.

Which of these three personalities best describes your child?

  1. The nonathlete: This child may lack athletic ability, interest in physical activity, or both.
  2. The casual athlete: This child is interested in being active but isn’t a star player and is at risk of getting discouraged in a competitive athletic environment.
  3. The athlete: This child has athletic ability, is committed to a sport or activity and is likely to ramp up practice time and intensity of competition.

If you understand the concepts of temperament and fitness types, you’ll be better able to help your kids find the right activities and get enough exercise they enjoy. Whatever their fitness personality, all kids can be physically fit. A parent’s positive attitude will help a child who’s reluctant to exercise.

Be active yourself and support your kids’ interests. If you start this early enough, they’ll come to regard the activity as normal, fun and part of your family’s daily routine.

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