In the “old” days, before technology became our best friend, if the weather permitted, most of us played outdoors. Bike riding, jumping rope, playing ball, hopscotch, and an assortment of other things were fun. They were all better than staying indoors. There wasn’t much of anything to do inside, unless, heaven forbid, you got roped into household chores, ick! Even if the household had a television, there wasn’t much to watch, especially during the day.
Today, life is incredibly different for everyone ages one to 100 and getting the kids to play outdoors isn’t always easy. It’s more fun to stream movies, watch television, play video games on the gaming console, or chat on the phone, computer or tablet. Physical activity is not only fun; it’s a must for our kids to keep them healthy and fit. Even if they aren’t sports fans, there are still motivating ways to get them outdoors.
If you’re having trouble getting your little dude or dudette off the couch, try some of these tips:
- Organized Sports: If your child is interested in playing football, soccer, basketball, or baseball, you have an inherent advantage. Help them prepare for school tryouts, and they will get lots of activity at practices and games. As you know, this type of activity takes a commitment on your part as well.
- Rules: Just like following laws, set rules for the kids by limiting the time they spend “being one” with the television or computer screen. Establish the expectation that they do physical activity for at least “X” minutes daily.
- Family Involvement: As kids, it was easy to love it when our parents played with us, so take the family bike riding, hiking, or swimming. Or consider something as simple as playing catch or walking the dog. If it’s safe, walk to school together, to the corner store, or to visit the neighbors. If a park or playground is close enough, you can walk there and use the equipment or just sachet along some trails.
- Invite friends: Invite another family or other kids to join you on a trip or other activity. Your child has added fun, and motivation, if they can bring a buddy along.
- Lead by Example: If your kids see you at the gym or doing regular walking or running, they are more likely to do the same, or you can ask them to join you and work out together. It’s important to practice what you preach. Use the stairs rather than the elevators when you have to take the kids to appointments.
- Feedback: Most of us can’t hear enough praise for doing good things. Be sure your children know how proud you are of their activities. Winning is not necessarily the goal, trying to be active is, so let them know what they are doing is great. This is especially important for a child who isn’t a natural athlete or has performance issues at some sports. They need to know that you remain proud of their efforts no matter what, and you can help them to practice more before the next event. Most everyone is self-conscious about something.
Here are a few more ideas to consider:
- Create an obstacle course in the backyard
- Dance ‘til you drop
- Hide a prize in the yard and have a treasure hunt
- Go bowling, skating or horseback riding
- Play tag, do cartwheels, jump around the yard
- Have a pillow fight
- Wrestle or play tickle monster
- Use television commercials as a fitness break and see who can do the most jumping jacks or squats.
Finally, if you are stuck indoors, think about yoga, or Pilates. Whatever you do, make it fun and let the kids pick weekend outings that involve physical activity. The entire family gets fit with fun.