As a child, I spent most of my spare time outside with siblings and neighborhood kids — running, jumping, and playing games. Aside from school, it was rare for us to sit more than an hour at a time. Video games and computers were limited to less than an hour a day.
Today, kids spend more time than ever in front of television screens, video games, and computers. When I talk to kids about this, they say their shows or games are more entertaining. If physical activity was fun, they would like to get involved.
Kids are growing up in a time of declining activity and rising obesity —and like adults, their health suffers. The solution is not a new idea or invention … it’s fun. With a little creativity, you can get the entire family moving—and enjoying it. Here are my top 4 ways to make activity fun again!
1. Join the President’s Challenge
The President’s Challenge consists of 5 program challenges designed to get children, adults, and seniors living an active, healthy lifestyle. Each challenge has specific guidelines and an award for completing it. For more information visit www.presidentschallenge.org.
2. Host a family fitness night
Trying this once a week can be easy and land at the top the fun scale. Simply set aside time with the entire family to try newgames in the back yard. (A few ideas: kickball, playing catch, shooting hoops, hopscotch.) If you don’t have a large back yard, try taking a walking adventure, or do something active indoors. You can invite other families in the neighborhood to join the fun.
3. Scavenger hunt
Kids like to be engaged and challenged, so setting up a scavenger hunt with activity built into each clue can exercise their bodies and brains. Grown-ups won’t want to be left out, either. You can let the winner each week plan the next week’s challenge as the prize.
4. Invent your own game
Use traditional card games or board games and add in activity breaks or activity cues. For example: If you play UNO, each time a person discards an even number, they have to do that amount of jumping jacks or other exercise. When a person has to draw four, they must do four laps around the room you are playing in. You can add fun cues into any game to make it active.
Bottom line: Just move! Run, swim, ride a bike, play tag, shoot hoops, play Twister, go for a walk, dance, play hopscotch, throw a Frisbee, hula hoop, or make up your own games to keep moving. Good habits start at a young age; it’s much easier to develop the habit of being active when it’s not a chore or a punishment. By making it fun and involving the entire family, you can show your kids that an active lifestyle is important as well as rewarding.
How you have incorporated activity into your family fun? Share your ideas and suggestions here — you may help another family increase their activity and have a blast!