Youth fitness is a big deal. Obesity rates are climbing, children are spending less time moving, and more time in front of a television. Just like adults, they get set in their ways, they lose motivation to move. As a busy mom it’s hard enough for me to get my workouts in, let alone run my kids through a workout. For our family, it’s a priority though. We stay fairly active, don’t worry I give them down days. Over the years though we, as a family, have come up with some fun ways to get moving.
1. TURN IT UP! Flipping the tv off, and the music on gets the whole house moving and grooving. My kids, 11, 9, and 6 now, have a set of chores, so this is generally when I blast the music and we move to the beat.
2. Tag! Who doesn’t love a game of tag? Even if it only lasts 10 min getting the heart rate up for a short amount of time is so beneficial. What we found, it generally leads to more movement. Once they get their blood pumping, it’s inevitable that a simple game of tag will lead to more activity.
3. Circuits – set up an indoor circuit or outdoor circuit. It’s basically an obstacle course. I limit it to 3-5 moves, depending on age. They work through the circuit, repeating it 5- 10 times. Now that my kids are older they create a circuit for each other to go through. I have various pieces of equipment, but if you don’t have fitness equipment, basic moves work well (push ups, crunches, marching knees) Toddlers LOVE crawling through things. If you have a tunnel or you can create a tunnel with a sheet and some chairs.
4. Commercial TIME OUT – We love this one, well actually I love this one. We have our time at night that we like to watch a few shows….SHARK WEEK, right?! Anyway, we hate commercials, so we came up with this idea that during each commercial a person calls out a move. We have to do that move until the commercials are over. It can last one show or you can set a goal, for example, do 50 crunches that night. It may take 2 shows to achieve your 50 crunches. When I started this with small kids, it was kept to one show and movements minimal.
5. Family walks – fitness doesn’t have to be hard core every day. For small kids, and older kids, walking is a great way to move the body. Walking helps families communicate, relieve stress, and get some fresh air. Walking is good for the heart, and great for the soul! In the spirit of keeping it real….our first family walks weren’t sunshine and roses….we had one son run ahead of us, the other son tackled his brother, dogs tangled leashes. TIP: set your walking boundaries, let your kids know walking expectations. If you want to take your dogs, that’s great, they need the exercise too, just make sure they cause more stress. You may need to take your dog on a separate walk. Our bigger dog is a nightmare on family walks, but an amazing running partner solo. So I take her by myself.
Helpful tip: if you do these activities at night and they jack your kids up. I like to follow any activity with three yoga breaths. After I’m ready to calm them down. I ask them to take a deep breath, hands rise up over head, hold for a second, release hands while releasing breath, repeat 2-3 more times. You let them know you had fun, but it’s time to calm the body back down. As time goes on, let your kids come up with ideas to move. Have them create the circuits or your commercial time out movements. When they can get involved they start to take ownership of their own health!