Encouraging Exercise in Your Kids
The ABCs of getting your kids outside and active
B Is for Being There
Once the TV's siren song is silenced, it's time to get moving yourself.
That's because children imitate what they see, and if you return laughing and
full of neighborhood news after a bike ride, they're more likely to want to
take part in the fun.
But if your child is hesitant, don't force the issue, recommends Michell
Muldoon, president of FunPlayDates.com, a web site promoting creative play for
kids. Instead, she recommends focusing more fully on your own activity so that
it has more appeal. More often than not a child "will become involved at
their own pace and enter into the activity without feeling he or she has been
forced into participation," Muldoon says
C Is for Choices
Like adults, children have distinct personalities, and what one thrives on
might bore another. "Some children are naturally social and energetic,"
says Muldoon. "Some are physical. Some are creative and some intellectual.
What stimulates one child may have absolutely no appeal to another."
Choice is the key. For children that flourish with free-play activities,
there's jump-rope, gardening, hop-scotch, hikes in the woods, or walks to
school. Some families go in for kickball, tag, or hide-and-seek. Fall is a
great time to build stick forts and gather autumn leaves for a collage, while
winter brings with it the fashioning of snow families and other icy fun.
For kids who like more structure, there are dance classes, sports teams, and
the YMCA/YWCA. Experts like Mark J. Occhipinti, PhD, president of American
Fitness Professionals & Associates, recommend strength training as a great
route to fitness. "Children should be strong," says Occhipinti, and
strength training "develops strong bones, confidence, balance, and
Supervised strength training (everything from climbing to medicine balls to
weights) helps kids develop into healthier, stronger adults, says Occhipinti.
Just ask the photogenic governor of California; Arnold Schwarzenegger took up
strength training when he was just 14 years old.