We live in an age in which it’s getting harder for kids to actually get outside and move around. Our own parents probably told us of summers spent riding bikes through forest trails, climbing trees, playing football in the park, or sometimes just wandering out into the fields and not returning until the fireflies were out. Nowadays, kids have two major obstacles to their fitness in play.
First is the prolific abundance of electronic entertainment, such as TV, video games and cell phones that make going outside for entertainment unnecessary. Kids are more inclined to stay indoors, with the outside being regarded as a strange, barbaric land with awful Wi-Fi. Second is that parents today are a lot more cautious with their children than they used to be. The idea of their children hurting themselves outside, away from home, makes them reluctant to head too far away from the house. As such, kids have less opportunity to run about.
So how can a parent today keep their kids healthy? With fitness games, of course.
Keeping Kids Kinetic
Apologies for the awkward subtitle, but we wanted to keep the alliteration. Anyhow, there are a number of ways you can ensure your children are getting the exercise they need to keep healthy and develop strong, active bodies. The first port of call is their school, of course. Enrolling a child into a sporting club is a great way to get them on their feet more and off the couch. Even that, however, will not be able to keep your kids’ fitness to suitable levels. Fortunately, there are ways to get kids energized at home too.
But first, some advice.
- Don’t overcomplicate activity. It’s tempting to assume that being active means running around, climbing or hitting balls of varying size and weight with assorted blunt instruments. That’s not necessarily true unless you want to spend your evening in an urgent care facility, like Night-Lite. Simple domestic tasks and activities can help keep your children’s fitness topped up. Even something as simple as household chores, or a leisurely stroll after dinner.
- Keep it regular. Kids like consistency. So if you want to encourage them to be more active, you should try to integrate it into their usual routines as much as possible. If you keep things too irregular then it’ll just make it more of a chore than an activity.
- Give your kids some freedom. Your kids know what they like. Sometimes letting them take control of how they burn off energy is a step in the right direction.
- Make it a family activity. If you expect to make your kids run around, ensure you join in from time to time too. For one thing, it sets a good example. Kids learn a lot by mimicry, so seeing you make an effort towards your fitness will encourage them to do likewise. Conversely, insisting they go out and remain active while you sit at home and watch TV is a gross double-standard that your kids will pick up on, creating resentment and reluctance.
Example Fitness Games
Sometimes you can’t beat the classics. Timeless playground games such as tag, hide and go seek, hopscotch and skipping are great and simple ways of getting your kids to move around more and require very little prep time and very few resources. They’re also games that you yourself can join in too, as they require very little strenuous activity or child-specific elements. However, they’re rather simplistic, and older kids may require something that offers more of a challenge.
Organized sports, such as football, soccer, hockey or baseball offer greater opportunities for developing not just your kids’ fitness, but also a sense of sportsmanship, organization, and coordination with other people. Most sports are team-based, and thus present more of an opportunity for building social schools than other games. Further, they’re more structured and allow more for your kids to focus on. Games like football or soccer have clear objectives, stages and developments than more nebulous, freeform games such as tag or skipping.
Some kids may not be taken by traditional sports, and that’s okay. Not everyone likes football, and not everyone can get behind basketball. However, that does not mean they’re doomed to a life of being a couch potato. If your child seems uninterested in the usual types of activities, look into alternative ways of keeping healthy. Martial arts or dance can build confidence as well as fitness while swimming or woodcraft can provide practical skills. Have your kid try out a variety of activities and see if any really click with them, as most clubs will offer at least one free tryout session before they ask for subscription fees.
Though, before you buy expensive equipment and memberships, make sure your child is truly interested in a sport and not simply amused for the moment.
Canny parents may also try to work fitness games into household chores. If you think your kids could stand to do some more around the house as well as keep fit, work some fun into their usual tasks. This works especially for younger children, who are typically more enthusiastic than older counterparts. Make their tasks into games (“Dish race! First one to finish cleaning their pile of dishes wins!”) and you’ll suddenly see them become a lot more interested in cleaning. Just remember: haste makes waste. You want chores done well. Not fast.
Christian Mills is a family man and freelance writer who stresses living out a healthy lifestyle. He likes to share his own tips and insights with his audience. If you would like to learn more about Christian, check out his google+ profile.