15 Tips to Get Your Kids Up and Moving


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When it’s bright and sunny outside and your kids are inside, what’s a mom to do?

Get active. Get creative. Get moving.

We’ve all heard our children say, “There’s nothing to do!” and “I’m bored!” How can you combat these activity doldrums?

If you want your kids to be more physically active, get moving along with them. When they see Mom (and Dad) breaking a sweat, they’re going to rise to the challenge — and the entire family will benefit.

Children under age 18 need at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day to stay healthy, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children take part in aerobic activity that is moderate to vigorous, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening exercises.

Adults need at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise a day to stay in shape.

Many chores can easily be turned into activity bursts that get the heart pumping and put a little fun into daily work.

By making family fitness fun, you can inspire your children to get away from their favorite screens and be more active.

Family Fitness Challenges

Most kids love a little competition, especially when it comes in the form of a “beat the parents” style event. Set up some fun — but realistic — goals. Here are some ideas:

  • Track weekly fitness activities. Use a calendar, dry erase board or chalkboard, displayed where everyone can see it. Give out rewards at the end of the week. Some examples:
    • Walk at least 10,000 steps every day.
    • Ride bicycles around the neighborhood. Add one extra lap every day.
    • Walk the dog for 30 minutes. Add 5 minutes each day.
    • Rewards might include stickers or small certificates.
  • Daily push-up or pull-up challenge. See how many of each every family member can perform. Bonus points for increasing the number each week.
  • Strength training. Show your pre-teen children how to safely perform bicep and tricep curls, using two-pound or five-pound weights. Do curls alongside your child, using your own weights. Track the number of repetitions.
  • Hoops competition. Everyone gets a turn to see how many baskets they can make in a row. Keep a record and see how the points add up with regular practice. Play on an outside court or use an indoor net — even a mini one will work.
  • Soccer shoot-out. Set up a net or target in the backyard or basement. See how many goals everyone in the family can score in a row. Then see how many goals everyone can shoot in three or five minutes.

5 Ways to Sneak Exercise into Your Child’s Day

Movement doesn’t need to come in the form of traditional exercise, or all at once. You can boost your child’s total exercise by pairing it with household tasks. Many chores can easily be turned into activity bursts that get the heart pumping and put a little fun into daily work.

  • Beat-the-buzzer laundry pick-up challenge
    • Set up laundry baskets in a corner of the room. Start a timer.
    • See if your child can shoot every article of clothing on the floor into the laundry basket before time runs out.
  • Sweep out the garage, dance competition style
    • Turn up the tunes to see who can create the most unique dance routine, using the broom as his or her partner.
  • Weed and run race
    • Assign each family member a section of the garden or flowerbed to tackle.
    • Place buckets in the middle of the yard.
    • Pull a handful of weeds, run to put the weeds into your bucket and return to your spot to continue.
    • See who can fill their bucket with the most weeds in 15 minutes. Repeat as needed until the weeds are gone.
  • Speed up trash collection
    • Assign each child a floor or section of the house.
    • See who can collect the garbage from all receptacles in their area the fastest.
  • Unload and lift the groceries
    • Ask them to do a few bicep curls while holding the canned corn or bottles of juice before they put them away.
    • Or see if they can juggle the oranges before they go into the fruit bowl.

Get Moving Together

When the whole family is active, parents teach their children that exercise is fun. Watch these videosOff Site Icon from the American Council on Exercise for games and drills families can do together to improve strength and overall health.

Inspire your children to move more by prioritizing physical fitness:15 Tips to Get Your Kids Up and Moving - In Content

  • Consider adding a ping pong or foosball table to the family room.
  • Ask your children to teach you their favorite sport or physical activity.
  • Pick an experience you love (hiking, yoga, running, swimming, etc.) and commit to practicing it on a regular basis with your kids.
  • Do what your children are passionate about. If they live and breathe baseball, play catch or set up batting practice in the backyard or at a park. Are they on a team? Organize a “kids vs. parents” game at the end of the season.
  • Let your children help plan a family vacation centered on being active: Hike the mountains in a national park or take a canoe trip.

Walking the talk with your children shows them how to be stronger and healthier and can boost their self-esteem. This is especially true for teen girls, who tend to be less physically active than adolescent boys, says the American College of Sports Medicine.

When your children develop a love for being physically fit, they will gain lifelong benefits.

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