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Getting Fit with Your Kids - It's a Family Affair

Tim Boyer's picture
Child fitness

Getting fit is work. And like most parents, getting fit typically means having to schedule in a constant and predictable workout plan that most kids would relish about as much as doing homework during a holiday. To help parents and their kids get fit together, Dr. Michael J. Berry, Director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Wake Forest University provides 11 tips on how parents can take the tedium out of exercise and get their children interested in getting fit with them.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children need at least 60 minutes a day of physical activity that includes aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening exercises.

For aerobic exercise the CDC recommends that aerobic activity should take up a large portion of your child's 60 minutes each day. Examples include moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking, or more vigorous-intensity activities such as running. The CDC recommends that the vigorous-intensity aerobic activities happen at least 3 times per week.

For muscle strengthening exercises, the CDC recommends activities such as gymnastics or push-ups, at least 3 days per week as part of your child's 60 minutes of daily exercise.

For bone-strengthening exercises, the CDC recommends activities like jumping rope or running as good ways to strengthen bones and that it should be done at least 3 days per week as part of your child's 60 minutes of daily exercise.

According to Dr. Berry, kids prefer exercising that does not follow the typical adult pattern of planned activities. Rather, he advises parents to vary their exercise routines to be more engaging for their kids.

“If you say, we’re going to take the kids out for a walk this evening, most kids are going to say, ‘Wait, we have to leave the video games or television?’” says Dr. Berry. “Kids like to play games, they like to be engaged, so exercise needs to be something that is sports-oriented or game-oriented.”

The following is a list of 11 suggested exercise activity tips from Dr. Berry for parents to get fit with their kids provided by Wake Forrest University News:

1. See the lights. Around the holidays, there are plenty of interesting light displays to see in your neighborhood. Or walk to pay a visit to nearby friends.

2. Aim for two or three activities a week, which will help you reach your daily adult fitness goal of 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week.

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3. Walk to school. That burst of activity in the morning can change your day.

4. Replace pizza and a movie night with family fitness night at least once a month. Get the kids excited about it.

5. Check out the fitness attractions your city offers. Visit a rock-climbing gym or a trampoline place, for example.

6. Make a fitness wish list with the kids. Write down every physical activity they’d like to do, and let them choose at least twice a month.

7. Play like a kid. A half-hour of tag or kickball is good exercise for you and your children.

8. Use your gaming system to your advantage. Pick a high-energy physical activity that you like (Just Dance for Wii, for instance), and make it a family competition. When the kids get bored, change the game.

9. Take it outside. But a simple walk won’t cut it, Berry said. Go to a park or nature preserve and take a hike.

10. Make dining out or after-dinner treats a physical activity. Walk to the restaurant from your home, if possible.

11. Join a league – kickball, basketball, soccer. They all offer opportunities for you and your kids to have fun getting fit.

Image source: Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Centers for Disease Control
Wake Forrest University News