The Benefits Of Exercise For Kids And How To Get Them MovingJan 11, 2023
Exercise is crucial for children’s physical and mental health. Physical activity helps improve their motor skills, coordination, and balance, and helps reduce the risk of countless lifestyle induced diseases later on in life. However, the challenge is often how to get them moving in a way they’ll be excited about.
We’ll take a look at both the benefits of exercise for children, and some ideas on how to encourage them to stay active.
The Benefits Of Physical Activity And Why It’s Important ⚡️
Not surprisingly, many of the same benefits of exercise that apply to adults also apply to kids, with some notable additions. Below is a list of some of the main benefits your kids can enjoy from exercising:
Improved Energy Levels 😃
Consistent exercise helps your child’s body function at its peak, allowing it to produce the energy your child needs to focus, play, and learn.
Reduced Stress 😅
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which trigger a positive feeling, and reduce the production of hormones that can lead to anxiety and depression. By exercising, your kids can enjoy improved moods, less worrying, and a greater zest for life.
Improved Sleep Patterns 😴
Exercise is a crucial component of healthy sleep. An active lifestyle helps reinforce our bodies’ natural circadian rhythm in a way a sedentary lifestyle never can. Staying active helps your child’s body know when it’s time to be up and active, and when it’s time to rest. That’s why exercising too close to bed can interfere with healthy sleep.
Weight Management 😋
Exercise has a variety of benefits for weight management. As mentioned above, exercise helps cut down on stress and improve sleep, both of which help your child’s body maintain a healthy weight. Exercise also helps their body properly use the nutrition in their food, leading to more toned muscles and less excess fat stores.
More Mental Clarity 😌
Staying active gets your blood pumping, and nudges your mind toward greater awareness. If your child is having trouble focusing, an active game or set of jumping jacks may help to clear his/her mind. This can be especially beneficial for improving your child’s academic performance.
Improved Imagination 🤗
More and more studies are showing a correlation between an active imagination and healthy child development. Skipping the video games and getting outside is a great way to help your child use their imagination, and reap the benefits using it brings.
Better Social Skills 🥳
As your child grows older, many exercise scenarios become more social. Encouraging these interactions and using them as a training ground to help your child navigate relationships can help your child develop essential skills early in life.
Healthier Growth And Development 😍
Your child’s bones and muscles continue to develop into early adulthood. Exercise is a key ingredient to a healthy skeletal structure and strong muscles as your child grows. Insufficient exercise early on can lead too many health complications down the road, and a less hardy immune system and constitution overall.
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How To Make Exercise Fun, And Turn It Into A Lifestyle 🎯
In order to help get our children moving, it’s important that we find activities that are fun, and ideally, that they can do with friends or family.
Some people think exercise is boring, but that’s only if we think of exercise too narrowly. Exercise is about movement. That means sports are exercise. Tag is exercise. Even duck duck goose is exercise. Once we start thinking outside the box of how to get our kids moving, we’ll find more ideas than we expected.
When navigating how to best encourage our kids to stay active, we have to deal with the main competition to activity. You guessed it. I’m talking about screens. There aren’t many things that encourage a sedentary lifestyle as much as too much screen time. Screens are captivating things, and without a good alternative, kids may resist getting outside or participating in more physical activities in favor of spending time on their phone or playing a video game. Discouraging screen time outright probably won’t be the ideal solution, but presenting fun, more relational, and more convenient alternatives can help your child embrace a more active style of living.
Here are a few ideas to help with this: 💡
- Have set “no screen” times, like at dinner or during family time
- Have a family game night that includes sports and yard games
- Have a family exercise time in the morning or evening. This can be a time when everyone gets together to do some jumping jacks, pushups, squats, and more. Or, if you already have a time when you work out, you can simply invite your children to join you. You’d be surprised how far a personal invitation to join you in something you enjoy can go. They may decide not to, but if they do join you, it will be a great bonding time as well as a time to teach them how to strengthen their body and build stamina.
- Pick exercise ideas you know your kids will think are fun. Go on bike rides, or go rollerblading. Take walks to parks and playgrounds where your kids can play active games like tag, escape, soccer, and Monkey on the Ground. (Check out our blog here for more ideas for family and outdoor activities.)
- Make screen time less convenient for your kids than board games or going outside. Have a specific device for games that’s only accessible some of the time. Have a time limit for games on the laptop. Only allow TV during certain times of the day or for certain occasions (like a birthday or family movie night). If you make using screens harder and less appealing for your kids, they’ll start to see easy to start games outside as more of a viable alternative.
- Have a consistent outlet to help them stay active. Enrolling your child in sports or a martial arts class can be a great way to encourage them to stay active both in and out of class.
Some of these ideas will depend on the age of your child. In a brief rundown, preschoolers should typically stick to active, fun activities without any competition. Elementary students should start socializing more in their games, but still have minimal competition. Middle School activities are very important for socializing, and there can be more competition as appropriate. Highschoolers can healthily compete in much more competitive activities, and participate in lots of social interaction throughout. When deciding on what opportunities and activities you want to encourage your child in, these general principles can be helpful.
The key to all of this is to make exercising and staying active a lifestyle, and that starts with you as their parent. The more opportunities and encouragement you give them to stay active, get outside, participate in sports, and avoid a lot of sedentary activity, the better chance you give them for a healthier, more productive life.
6 Creative Exercise Ideas That Make Kids Smile 🎈
Let’s face it. Our kids often spend more time in front of screens than we’d like. Aside from not really benefiting them, screen time encourages a sedentary lifestyle. If we want our children to be healthy and continue to develop their minds and bodies, we need to help shape the path for them to exercise more frequently. One way to do this is to make exercise fun and easily accessible.
Here Are 6 Creative Exercise Ideas To Make Your Child Smile:
Hula Hooping 🌴
Hula hooping is a great way to get kids moving. It’s a low-impact workout that provides aerobic exercise, and is fun to boot. You don’t need to be an expert to start hula hooping, and you can do it anywhere. All you need is the hoop.
Jumping is probably one of the best ways to burn off a ton of energy. Have your child place their arms out in front of them as they jump up and down repeatedly. Or, play imitation games where you take turns jumping between different points in the yard and the other person has to follow suit as closely as they can. Jumping will definitely get your heart rate up, and it’s almost impossible to jump and NOT smile. 🤣
Tag is a game that can be played with kids of any age. It’s a great way to get your kids outside and encourage them to be active. Plus, the game’s rules are easy, so even the younger kids can learn them in a short time.
Simon Says 📣
Games involving listening, like Simon Says, can be both fun and educational. They require more conscious concentration than most outdoor games, and result in your child needing to develop more alertness and attention to detail—skills that will be valuable as he/she grows.
Roller Skating ⛸
One of the many benefits of children roller skating is that it helps improve balance and coordination. On top of that, mastering this skill will feel really good, providing your child with an opportunity to persist in something until it becomes second nature. This is a great life lesson as well as a fun pastime.
It’s a rare child that doesn’t like playing in water. Swimming is a great activity that provides lots of options for entertainment. There are water games like Marco Polo, there are swimming and retrieving competitions, and of course there’s always the competition of who can make the biggest splash when jumping into the pool. And if your kids are too young to swim, there are always floaties and pool noodles to help keep them afloat while they’re learning.
Get The Whole Family Involved In Your Kids’ Exercise
Having family encouragement and support in exercising is a crucial factor in helping exercise become a part of your child’s lifestyle. When you make it a cultural norm of your family to stay active and prioritize exercise, it will be much easier for your child to embrace, and even enjoy having an active lifestyle.
There are a few ways to do this.
First, having an exercise routine yourself shows your child how important exercising is to you and the family.
Second, you can enjoy family exercise times as mentioned above. These can be formal workout sessions, stretch sessions, or just a time to play an intense outdoor game or sport. A lot will depend on the age of your kids and what they enjoy, but there’s guaranteed to be something that’s the perfect fit for your family.
Third, take up a family hobby together that keeps you active. This could be hiking, biking, bowling, long walks, a martial art, swimming, and so on. Just pick something that everyone can participate in at some level.
Take Action! 💥
-Choose one activity you’ll encourage your child to do more often to help keep them moving
-Start a family game night, and include sports and outdoor games
PRODUCTS TO SUPPORT KIDS WORKOUTS
Kids were born to move and stay active, but it can be hard for them in our screen-filled society to get the exercise they need without getting distracted. As their parent, you have the ability to shape their perspective on exercise, and provide them with opportunities to help them stay active. As you do this consistently over time, you’ll be helping your child develop an active lifestyle whose benefits they’ll enjoy for the rest of their life.
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