5 Ways to Encourage Kids to Play and Stay Active

One of the most positive aspects of physical activity – beside health benefits – is that it can be really fun. However, cars, technology, and entertainment have dramatically changed how much we move.

We are at a point where it is normal not to move during the day. We have normalized a sedentary lifestyle and thus are at risk of making decisions that are not good for the human body over time.

And when it comes to children and exercise, the picture is not getting any brighter. According to the World Health Organization, there are 41 million overweight or obese infants and young children. If current trends continue, that number will increase to 70 million by 2025.

Off the Couch: Getting Our Kids to Move 

So how can we help create healthier lifestyles for kids? The younger your children develop physical activity and good nutrition habits, the more likely it is that they will maintain them for life.

Here are 5 ideas to get your kids off the couch and on their feet:

Make it a family activity.

Kids might be unwilling to exercise if they see it as an additional chore. But if you join them and make exercising part of spending quality time with the family, their attitude will most likely shift. You can plan a comprehensive set of activities to do together: mountain climbers, bear crawls, star jumps, squats, and jumping jacks require little space and can be a fun family activity.

Get the TV out of their room.

It might be tempting for children to stay in bed and watch cartoons or play video games all day long. To reduce the temptation, place the TV in the living room and suggest playing some active video games to make the most out of their screen-time.

Get creative.

Variety is key to keep exercise fun for children, so make sure to include diverse activities: dancing, yoga, basketball in the backyard. A fun way to mix it up is writing different exercises on sheets of paper and draw them out of a bucket. Here is a great resource of exercise cards for kids that will make keeping active an exciting surprise.

Let your child lead.

Children are more likely to commit to something that was their idea in the first place, so let your child chose the activity the family will engage in. Whether it’s playing basketball or dancing at home, try to be encouraging and empowering them to make these small choices.

Get pedometers for the family.

Kids enjoy measuring things up, so why not get a pedometer – a gadget that counts how many steps you take – for every family member and compare their numbers at the end of each day? A bit of healthy competition might make wonders for your kid’s motivation.

Remember to pair these activities with good, balanced nutrition. You can start your own backyard garden and get your kids involved in making breakfast or dinner. When discussing childhood obesity prevention we need to focus on physical activity and healthy nutrition, but also on making sure kids feel motivated in a supportive environment.

Samantha ClaytonOLY, ISSA-CPT – Vice President, Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness

Samantha Clayton represented Great Britain at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in both the 200m and the 4x100m relay events. She is a certified personal trainer with specialty certifications in group fitness, youth fitness programming, senior fitness and athletic conditioning. She has direct responsibility for all activities relating to exercise and fitness education for Herbalife Nutrition independent distributors and employees.