Tips for helping kids exercise:
- Aerobic not Anaerobic: When the exercise level is too hard, children and adults believe that they are not designed for exercise. In contrast, when exercise is gentle, and the increase is gradual, the body adapts and the mind rewards us with a better mental perspective, more energy and an endorphin afterglow that makes us feel better.
- A good example: Kids who have an exercising parent are more likely to exercise themselves. But workout regularity is important. Those who exercise every 10-14 days don’t make a big impression. Even when the workouts are short, those who exert themselves 3-7 days a week teach their kids that exercise is “something we do”. And the kids become adults who enjoy a lifetime of fitness.
- The power of exercising together: When asked, most kids want to go with an adult on a walk around the block, around the mall, to the basketball court, etc. Moving forward together creates a bond, and you don’t have to say a word. But you will also find that your conversations during a fitness session bring out good feelings and information that is not usually experienced in other activities. Besides, it’s fun to talk about what you see along the way.
- Explain the benefits of exercise: After a fitness session, talk about how good you feel. Mention that your attitude is better after exertion, and that your mind works better. Pick out several ways you have solved problems, or how you had more energy at the end of a tough day because you worked out regularly. Kids soak up statements like this and remember them.
- When you have exertive challenges, take a positive slant: On a tough workout day, talk about how you had more energy at the end of a tough day, talk about how we become tougher when we don’t give up. When you make a mistake during exercise, tell your child how much you learned, and that you will do better next time because of the experience. Again, kids soak up what you say.
- Get a step counter: A little positive reinforcement goes a long way with a kid. The gift of a step counter shows your interest in their positive exercise behaviors. Studies show that exercisers like to see the results of their efforts and when they use these devices, they tend to exercise longer and more often.
- Have a reward: After each exercise session, share a reward together. Make a smoothie, get a small ice cream treat. When your child has been consistent with his/her exercise for a month, get a special outfit, or new pair of shoes at a quality sports/running store.
- Attend events together: Walking/running events are upbeat venues for families to gather and participate together. The date on the calendar provides kids and adults with a deadline that improves motivation. As a coach to your child, the greatest reward is having him or her pick up the pace and finish ahead of you. This is a victory….for life.