Good fitness is essential for anyone, but especially so for growing children. Getting your children into good exercise habits at a younger age will bode well for them as they develop and get older. It’s also a great excuse to allow yourself to get out more and stay in shape, too, as well as encouraging more family time spent together for a great health reason.
If you’re struggling for ideas or motivation for your family fitness, let the following guide help you get on the right track.
Make it Fun
Even adults hate boring exercise. So imagine how difficult it is to motivate a child to get on board with exercise which they simply have no interest in. In order to make a good fitness routine more likely, make it fun – and implement it wherever and whenever you can (because any extra movement and exercise in children is better than nothing!).
Making it fun can start easily at home – think about the space you have, including garden space, and what you can do with it to encourage more play and movement. Trampolines in the garden, for example, are very popular features to combine exercise and play. You can shop around for the right shape trampoline for the space you have, such as a square trampoline, and enjoy it with your child at home.
Also, pay attention to the types of exercise your child clearly enjoys, and those they do not. If your child isn’t fond of big hikes or jogging, try something different like cycling or ask them what they would like to do, and what they feel most motivated about.
Lead by Example
Your child looks up to you as an example in most things. This means if you aren’t doing your part to stay active and encourage better fitness, your child isn’t going to feel very interested, either. Be sure to never speak of exercise in a negative light, even if you feel that way, such as having a lazy day or not being too motivated about your fitness at the moment. Don’t let your child sense or see that you’re begrudging exercise, or canceling any fitness, because they will follow suit or view it as a negative aspect.
Encourage positivity when it comes to exercise and try to make sure that fitness always sounds like a fun, cool thing for the whole family to do together.
Being outdoors in the fresh air as a family is the simplest (and cheapest) way to find your exercise. Family walks, hikes, jogs or even just a jaunt around the park combine movement and exercise with great family days out which everybody can get on board with. Use this as an opportunity to travel around with your family and visit some great, new locations, whether it’s a park you’ve never been to, a stroll along a nearby beach or a hiking trail in a new part of the country for a weekend trip away.
Keep your child’s interest at its peak by offering new and exciting places to explore, so that your exercise routine isn’t always in the same, local place – which can easily become boring for everyone involved.
Use a Reward or Treat System for the Family
Incentives are great, especially for younger children. However, when it comes to exercise and being healthy, having a treat system no matter your age is key to staying motivated. You don’t want to risk burning out due to over-exercising or becoming miserable because you never allow your family the occasional treat.
Think of ways to motivate the family together in regards to fitness; agree to a certain amount of days of exercise and healthy eating, and then treat yourself to a day off where everybody is allowed to choose a treat item to eat or drink as a reward. Or, agree to a family meal out as a reward for exercising throughout the week.
Having treat days to look forward to as a family gives you something to focus on and something to aim for, which you know you will get if you manage to stick to your diet and fitness routine.
Sign Up to Classes
Encouraging better fitness in your children doesn’t mean that you always have to exercise with them. Take the time to find out your child’s interests and research new classes or hobbies they may want to try. This could be swimming classes or dance classes, anything which gets them on their feet and moving, but which gives them a new, sociable interest at the same time.