It’s no surprise that kids who exercise are not only healthier overall, but are more likely to make fitness a priority later on life – which is more important than ever given that 30 percent of children are obese or overweight in the United States.
Kids should be getting at least an hour of exercise every day, but they’re ultimately falling short. In fact, 58 percent of children are playing outside less than 4 days a week, according to research from the YMCA.
Are you having trouble getting your kids motivated? Larysa DiDio, a celebrity trainer, fitness expert, and co-author of Sneaky Fitness, along with Kimberly Wechsler, a family fitness expert and author of three upcoming books about exercise for kids, weigh in with the best activities you can do with your kids to get them moving more.
With geocaching available in many local areas, you don’t have to go far to participate in this outdoor treasure hunt. Using a GPS-enabled device or your smartphone, you walk or hike to specific locations to find hidden containers or caches. The caches contain a logbook with notes from other people who were there or other items for a fun discovery adventure.
2. Obstacle courses
Whether in the backyard or in the playground, an obstacle course is a great way for kids to engage in a variety of activities. Obstacle courses are also great for kids of all ages to play together, because they can compete against their own time – not against each other. The course can include a variety of activities like sprinting, a bike ride, jump roping, a hula hoop, and a Frisbee toss.
3. Pool games
Swimming is a great way for kids to be active in the summer time, but you can make it even more challenging with games. Throw pennies in the pool and have the kids compete to see who can fill up the “treasure chest” the fastest. Or, see who can keep a balloon or a ball in the air the longest; the person who drops it has to do two laps.
You can set up a regular backyard race or get more creative and customize it with your kids’ interests. Got an aspiring dancer? Incorporate choreography into the course. Or, set up sports drills for your little athlete. Many local race events for adults also include a kids’ fun race which is a great way to train and compete together.
5. Circuit training
Rather than a boring gym routine, circuit training for kids can incorporate any sports drill, Yoga pose or exercise – and can be done indoors or out, in a pool or on the playground. Set up eight to 10 circuit stations and alternate cardio, strength training, flexibility and balance exercises. Preschoolers should be at each station for thirty seconds or less and two to five minutes is good for older kids.
6. Tag with a creative spin
A game of tag is an easy standby but you can spice it up depending on the age. Preschoolers can pretend to be different animals, so when the child who is “it,” is tagged, he then has to move like a different animal (for example, slither like a snake or crawl like a cat). For older kids, use clothespins to tag each other; the player to get rid of all of his clothespins wins.
7. Do-gooder events
Charity work is a great way for kids to get active and feel good about helping others. Let your kids pull a wagon around the neighborhood to collects books for their library or canned goods for a local food pantry. They can also volunteer to water the neighbor’s plants or rake leaves.
Julie Revelant is a freelance writer and copywriter specializing in parenting, health, healthcare, nutrition, food and women's issues. She’s also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.