We are a nation of watchers. We watch TV. We watch our phones. We watch video games. We watch our computers. While the conveniences of modern technology are great, they're making everyone from babies to adults move less. As a result, fine motor skills aren't being developed in kids, nor is the foundation of a strong heart, lungs, and muscles. In addition, it's also setting kids up for a sedentary lifestyle, which may lead to obesity as adults.
The key to getting 60 minutes of aerobic exercise every day, as recommended by the Center for Disease Control, is to make exercise fun for kids. Running in place on a treadmill or sitting on a stationary bike is unlikely to make your child excited for exercise. What do kids like to do? Run, play, skip, hop, and jump. In our jam-packed, over-scheduled world, it's easy to skip time for exercise. The key is to sneak in exercise as a family. It will prepare your kids for a lifetime of physical activity and will help you stay in shape as a bonus.
1. Shake your groove thing. Kids love to dance. Push the living room furniture out of the way and make a dance floor for everyone to dance their little hearts out.
2. Walk and talk. Make it a habit of going for a walk of any distance before or after dinner. It's a great way to catch up on the events of the day and to get in more activity as a family.
3. Have an activity day. Take one day out of the weekend and make it an activity day. Go hiking, ride bikes on a new trail, go to a rock climbing gym or try out a high ropes obstacle course.
4. Take a break. When watching TV, make every commercial break an exercise break. Have the whole family do push-ups, squats, jumping jacks, or high knees. It's a way to break up inactivity with short bursts of exercise.
5. Tag! You're it! Tag is a great game for any age. It may seem simple, but it's actually helping to build skills for other sports. The quick starting and stopping is similar to conditioning drills routinely used in practices for basketball and football.
6. Ride or walk to school. If you live relatively close to your kids' school, take the trek as a family. You'll save on gas and will sneak in some exercise.
7. Get dirty. Gardening is a form of strength training — digging holes and planting flowers can be like lifting weights. Have your kids help dig holes for bulbs, rake leaves to make a leaf pile, or water the garden. Kids love to play in the dirt!
8. Stretch it out. When you roll out your yoga mat, make sure to grab one for your child as well. They will love to practice poses such as downward facing dog, tree or happy baby.