How can I encourage my kids to exercise?

How can I encourage my kids to exercise?

It seems every TV program or news article nowadays is talking about kids getting more and more obese and lazy, but whilst we all know and hear the benefits of being active, the reality is that getting some kids to exercise is like moving a mountain and many of us give up trying.

But don’t lose heart, the 2012 Olympics and Para Olympics have really inspired adults and children across the globe, and both parents and teachers should use this opportune time to engage the usually non-sporty children to join in.

From track to swimming and cycling the number of medal winners this year is increasing sport’s popularity. The variety of sports it showcased demonstrates there really should be something to attract everyone, regardless of age, ability or fitness level.

Rather than limiting the options for children, ask them what excited them during the events and see where these are available in your local area or take a look online for any sports equipment or resources you might need to bring it to life, and they don’t have to be costly.

In the UK football is a key sport that kids, boys particularly, enjoy and thanks to many sports centres and schools it  can be played both indoors and out, with more football teams popping up every week  for youngsters to join any child can become part of a team and wear their football shirt with pride. Or they can simply have a kick around or practice goal kicks with a ball at home, the choice is there.

Swimming is all-rounder sport too hat can be done alone for kids who aren’t as sociable, or as part of a group or team, with swimming caps, goggles and floats everyone can feel confident in the water, and again as winter approaches there are no excuses, it can be done all year round.

The GB team had great Olympic success in cycling too, on a nice day taking a family ride along one of the many cycle paths in the UK is fantastic way to get in the fresh air and spend some quality family time together, and you can go at any pace, so it suits all fitness levels.

Gymnastics attracts both girls and boys, teaching them the importance of stretching and movement and also allowing them to show-off some clever tricks which always goes down well in the playground and helps build confidence.

Track events were massive as usual and the relay really caught people’s attention this year thanks to Usain Bolt, so perhaps you child likes the idea of sharing the glory and work; simply get some of their likeminded friends together, join an athletic team and watch them pass the baton on.

Simple toys such as scooters, hula hoops, footballs  are also great to have in the home/shed and at school for those ‘just in case’ moments when the kids need entertaining or they want to get out outside with friends, if you provide them with alternatives to computers and TV they are more likely to give them a try.

The real stumbling block any parent or teacher needs to get past is not preaching and simply saying you need to get fit or lose weight; saying such things instinctively makes them defensive and less response, it’s the same for adults. Plus presenting it as compulsory exercise is not advised, it’s like dieting; we instinctively refuse to accept it when it’s enforced and not welcome. Instead present it as a mini-Olympics, a way to meet and share friends; even special time with the ones they love and make it a frequent activity; I promise they will be more excited and involved; and hopefully so will you; our children learn by our example after all.

Carlo Rossi is a blogger and writes on teamwear by Davies Sports covering everything from football t-shirts to playground equipment.


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