Physical activity is so important for kids, and everyone really. Today more than ever before in history we are living a sedentary lifestyle. Kids are in school, at desks, in cars, playing games on phones, and so on. Regular physical activity can help kids not only build healthy bones and muscles, but it also helps to reduce anxiety and stress and increase self-esteem according to the CDC. However, let’s be real, no kid wants to go run a lap around the track. And they don’t want to get off their electronics either. So how do we promote healthy activities and make it enjoyable?
It Starts With Us Parents
We are the best inspiration and motivation for our kids. We don’t get a lot of credibility by telling them to go out and play while we sit there observing them halfheartedly as we look at our phone. I can see this as a gauge with my own child. If she’s playing by herself, she’s only so-so entertained. When I play with her or we play together, she is more engaged, has more fun, and ends up in a better mood at the end of the day. Do something that your kids love to do. It is different for every age, but I’ve found that generally, whenever mom or dad join in, the kids have way more fun.
Take Them Somewhere They’ve never been before
New is always exciting. It’s great because it gives the brain something to really process. When it’s the same park or backyard as usual, the brain gets familiar with it and has less to take in. Search online for kid friendly places near you, search for indoor play places, look for a farm in your area that you could visit, maybe your local library has a kid’s corner and book reading event, search Facebook events near you. Most cities have little sub-communities of parents who are also looking for something interesting to do.
Network with other parents
You don’t always have to do this parenting thing alone. Especially if you’re a SAHM (or dad). It can get lonely taking care of the kids all day by yourself. Even if you work full time or part time, it’s great to get together with other parents. Not only for support and making new friends, but also of your kids to make new friends. When your kids make new friends they often have an easier time of it running around and playing games. It’s new and exciting! And new is often more fun.
Take in the great outdoors
And not just the backyard. Hopefully wherever you live it’s not too far from some beautiful nature spots. Another great idea is to find some hiking trails and let the kids loose. I like this because you’re away from cars and traffic so the kids are safe and have lots to explore. It’s also very therapeutic to be out in nature.
Set up something to build
I think one of the best things to do when you’re a kid is to build a fort. It could be a snow fort in the winter, a tree house, a blanket fort, or something made out of cardboard. Building things can take a lot of physical effort for kids. And it’s great physical effort because it’s a natural way of physical movement. Plus, it’s SO MUCH FUN! If you will actually be building something outside with wood and nails then it’s a good idea to have the preparation done so that they can just get to work. Otherwise they can get burnt out because they aren’t actually doing the fun bit yet. Once the fort is made, that’s easily another few hours of play time and they feel that they’ve really created something that’s their own.
Physical activity is so important to a healthy lifestyle, but it’s the best when it’s fun. What do you do to have fun with your kids?