We know that the back-to-school season can be a challenging, busy season for many families, and unfortunately, it can also be a time when healthy habits from the summer fall by the wayside. After all, it’s hard to keep kids active when your whole day is taken up with getting ready for school, after-school activities, homework, dinner and bedtime. So, when on earth is the time for exercise supposed to happen? Keeping your children active is absolutely crucial, especially because they’re expected to sit still for such long periods of time during the school day. Even with all the setbacks you may have, here’s how to ensure they’re maintaining an active lifestyle!
The good news is that taking action to help your kids remain active is much easier than you’d think. Really, it is! Helping kids get enough exercise doesn’t mean you have to enroll them in all kinds of sports or drag them outside with you for your morning jog. In fact, many experts say that forcing kids to do physical activities they don’t enjoy will turn exercise into a burden and may even reduce some of the cognitive benefits. So instead, follow these tips to help your kids stay active and have fun as a family at the same time.
Set the Example
Kids learn by what we do, not necessarily what we say. If parents are consistently staying active, kids are more likely to be active themselves and view fitness more positively. Conversely, if you’re sitting on the couch watching TV all day and just verbally telling your kids to go outside, they understandably might not respond very well.
Make it Fun
We know this intuitively with our own experience with exercise, don’t we? If we enjoy an exercise, we do it more and feel great afterward. If we don’t enjoy it but force ourselves to do it because it’s “good for us”, we tend to put it off, spend less time on it, and feel more drained afterwards. Well, it’s the same thing with our kiddos. Incorporating competition and free play, a positive and light-hearted attitude, and the specific activities your child enjoys will all help your child be more active and enjoy the maximum benefits of physical fitness.
Use the Dead Time
We all have little pockets of dead or unused time in our day. Maybe dinner is taking longer than expected, so everyone is waiting around an extra ten minutes. Rather than spending these extra moments just hanging out or take care of some chores, what if you used them to get a little more physical activity? This could mean going for a short walk around the block with a toddler, or having a spontaneous dance party or a mini yoga session before you head out to the next thing. The key is taking note of these little snippets of free time and making use of them, so that you are able to increase kids’ overall activity level during the day without adding on an additional “activity time” that might feel like a too big of a burden when you are busy.
It’s hard to make sure your kids are getting enough exercise, especially as the weather turns colder and our days are full of busy back-to-school activities. But finding little ways to spark activity and remind kids of the joy of being physically active can be much easier and simpler than you’d think.