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It’s really important to me that my kids are physically active. I want them to develop habits now that will translate into lifelong fitness.  Whether it’s finding a sport or sports that they love or just learning to love exercise, it doesn’t really matter to me as long as they’re moving.  In today’s technology-heavy world, it’s really easy to lose that desire to move in exchange for watching television or playing video games.  I was able to pick the brain of a friend who’s a Certified Personal Trainer and Youth Exercise Specialist to get her take on motivating kids. Here are five ways that she recommends getting kids excited about exercise.

According to TheGuardian, Children today spend half the time their parents did playing outside, a survey suggests.

Children today spend half the time their parents did playing outside

“While more than four-fifths (83%) of parents questioned thought it was important their children learned to use technology, nine out of 10 would prefer them to spend their childhood outdoors, developing a connection with nature.  The research found, on average, children were playing outside for just over four hours a week, compared to 8.2 hours a week when the adults questioned were children.”


  1. Make it about play.

Exercising should never feel like a burden, because if it does, you’re not going to want to do it.  The same is true when it comes to kids and exercise.  So, in order to combat boredom, make exercising more like play.  Tag, Hide and Seek, Frisbee, and Relay Races are much more fun for kids than sitting on an exercise bike for a half-hour.


  1. Get in the Game, Mom and Dad!

Instead of sending the kids out in the backyard on their own, head outdoors with them.  When you model good exercise habits or engage in play activities with them, they’re much more likely to hold onto those behaviors.  My friend suggested that even if you don’t feel like playing, give yourself 10-minutes of full-on engagement in the game or activity.  If, at the end of 10 minutes you’re still not into it, gracefully bow out and let the kids play on their own.  She said most people find that after about 10 minutes their mindset changes and they keep playing or exercising.


  1. Rotate equipment

If you have every outdoor toy under the sun, don’t put them all out at once.  Rotate between having the soccer ball and Frisbee available.  Bring out the badminton set occasionally.  By keeping the choices fresh and new, your kids will more readily engage in active play.


  1. Just dance!

It doesn’t matter if you have two left feet, dancing is a great way to burn calories and make exercising fun.  If you have a gaming console and one of the Just Dance games, you can turn your dance party into a competition.  If you don’t have access to one, simply turning on the radio and dancing along to songs is just as good.


  1. Try new things.

Instead of limiting exercise to traditional moves, go on family adventures.  Take a hike in the woods, do sprints or have races on the beach, go to a trampoline park and play dodgeball, or head to the pool for a day of swimming fun.  Not only will your kids burn calories, but they’ll have fun doing it!


Exercise for kids doesn’t have to resemble intense cardio and weight lifting sessions.  In fact, it shouldn’t. Use the very things that make childhood so special to turn exercise into a daily part of everyday life.  When you set a strong foundation and lead by example, you set your kids up for a lifetime of fitness.

Try these screen free activities:
60 screen free activities

OR this: 
White sheet of paper with text on it.

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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1 Comment

  1. #2 is what works for us. Since I’d like to spend more time outside after sitting in front of the computer all day long. Then if the neighbors come out with their kids, that’s even better because kids will play together and we’ll have some adult conversation. I’m so happy that Spring is here in Chicago. I could stay outside all day long.