Instilling a love of fitness and exercise in your children at a young age can ensure that they reap the many rewards of an active lifestyle throughout their adulthood. However, it can be a challenge to drag your kids away from their phones, the television, or their favorite video games. One of the best ways to get your kids active is to exercise with them. Make a commitment to family fitness and be the role model of an active adult that your kids can follow. Also, being active with your children is a great way to spend time with them!
Why a Fitness Lifestyle Is So Important for Children
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and teens, ages 6 to 17, exercise for at least an hour a day. In its Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, the HHS writes, “Compared to those who are inactive, physically active youth have higher levels of fitness, lower body fat, and stronger bones and muscles. Physical activity also has brain health benefits for school-age children, including improved cognition (e.g., academic performance, memory) and reduced symptoms of depression.”
In other words, keeping your kids active is important! Unfortunately, with schools routinely cutting back on gym class and the temptation of television, social media, video games, and other distractions, many children are simply not moving enough. A survey by the YMCA found that 74% of children between the ages of 5 and 10 do not get the recommended hour of exercise a day. It’s no wonder that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that one in five school-age children are obese. (That number has tripled since the 1970s!)
What can you do to help your children embrace a fitness lifestyle? The answer is to move, play, dance, and exercise with them!
How to Become a Fit Family
If you and your children are more likely to spend the weekend on the couch watching movies together instead of grabbing your bikes and hitting the trail, it’s time to change your habits. You can do it! Who knows, encouraging your children to move might help you get a little more active, too!
Here are six effective ways to encourage family fitness:
It’s never too early to encourage movement, play, and exercise with your children. The sooner you start taking them with you on your workouts, the more normal and natural this will seem. Exercise will be a part of their life from their earliest days, and hopefully it will continue to be a priority for the rest of their days.
Make It Fun
If exercise is a chore, your children will learn to dread it. Instead of forcing your little ones to run laps on the local high school track, find ways to make working out seem fun and exciting. One of the best ways is to turn fitness into a game. You can start simple, by playing tag with your little ones or having sprint races across the field. There are endless ways you inject fun and silliness into your workouts. Here are just a few more suggestions:
- Play catch
- Invest in a trampoline and jump together
- Have dance competitions at home
- Put up a badminton net in the backyard
- Go geocaching
- Challenge each other to push-up or sit-up competitions
Sign Up for a Competition
If you want to get your children away from their screens, sign up for a 5k as a family or—if your children are older—sign up for a doubles tennis tournament or something similar that you can do together. There are plenty of different types of competitions to consider. (Obstacle course race, anyone?)
Having something to train for can give your children more motivation to get up and move and provide a purpose for their activities. The competition itself can also create powerful memories, help your children learn important lessons (especially if they don’t win), and give you a chance to spend time together before, during, and after the race.
Join a Sport Together
Putting your children into sports is an excellent way to promote fitness, but why should you sit on the sidelines while your kids have all the fun? There are many different sports and activities that children and their parents can take together. (Even if you can’t take the same class as your children, most training centers offer adult classes, so you can both learn together and train together during open gym.) This is a fantastic way to bond and to let your child “teach” you.
Just a few examples of sports classes you can potentially take together are:
- Martial arts
- Indoor rock climbing
Take a Fitness-Centered Vacation
Incorporate fitness into your family vacation to add lots of fun and excitement to the trip and to make up for all those delicious restaurant meals. There are lots of different ways to do this, and while some may cost a little extra money, many can be done while staying within your budget. One of the best and least expensive options is to take a family camping trip. Banish the electronics and take your children on hikes or bring the mountain bikes and hit the trails.
Beach vacations or lake vacation can easily offer up tons of activities the whole family can do, like:
- Walking down the beach or lake
- Scuba diving
Finally, if you love the snow, then show your kids how to be active no matter the weather. Winter vacations can include:
Give Your Children a Gym Membership
Not every kid wants to join a sport, and sometimes the weather doesn’t make it easy to go on a family hike or take out the bikes. Consider giving your older children, tweens, and teens a membership to your gym. Many gyms offer family fitness plans that can mean helpful discounts for extra memberships.
When taking your children to the gym, make sure to schedule an orientation with a staff member so your kids learn how to properly use the equipment and about good gym etiquette. After that, the sky’s the limit! You can train right alongside your children, helping them build muscle with resistance machines or improve their cardiovascular health on the cardio equipment.
Try a new group fitness class together, like yoga, Pilates, or Zumba®. At EōS Fitness, many of our gyms offer additional amenities that can be fun to try with your children, like our functional fitness area, dedicated cycling room, pool, basketball court, and our EōS Cinema where we show popular movies.
Enjoy the Benefits of a Fitness Lifestyle Together
One of the greatest gifts you can give to your children is an appreciation for physical fitness. We all know the many benefits that regular exercise offers, and children who learn to love fitness early are likely to make it a regular part of their lives as adults. Fitness can help keep your children healthy, give them a positive coping mechanism, and encourage them to make active friends.
So, what are you waiting for? Gather up the family and go for a hike! When you get back, take a look at the EōS Fitness Blog for more great activity ideas, yummy and healthy recipes, and fitness tips from our certified trainers.