If you’re anything like me (and I’m betting you are), you worry about your kids’ health and well-being. You want them to eat nutritious foods, do well in school, and for goodness sake, get some exercise. But if your kids are anything like mine (and I’m betting they are), they have other priorities. You’re thinking baked chicken and vegetables. They’re thinking hot dogs and french fries. You’re thinking bike ride. They’re thinking Spongebob.
Keeping kids fit and healthy is important. We all know the grim statistics on rising childhood obesity rates. Kids are getting type 2 diabetes, for heaven’s sake. Something’s got to give. In the words of Henry Ward Beecher, “I think you might dispense with half your doctors if you would only consult Dr. Sun some more”. But getting kids off the couch and away from the screens is hard. You need to be armed. You need a strategy. I’ve come up with 3 ideas to help our kids get outside and get active. Try one. Try all. Try something.
1 – Family Hikes
Depending on the age of your kids, you might get some grumbling on this one. Younger kids love the idea of going out with family. Older kids will just think you’re dumb. Let’s face it. They’re going to think you’re dumb anyway, so they might as well get some exercise while they’re at it. Let the kids help choose the trail. Start easy so they’ll want to do it again. Pack a lunch. Put on comfortable shoes, and get walking.
2 – Neighborhood Games
Remember the days when all the kids in the neighborhood used to gather spontaneously in one yard and just play? I do. We played kick the can. You know. It’s the game where the person who’s it has to capture everyone before somebody kicks the can and they’re all free again. When is the last time you saw a bunch of kids doing something like this? Playdates are great, but where’s the spontaneity?
Here’s what I suggest. (Full disclosure – I haven’t tried this. Where we live, I’d have to bus the kids in, and that kind of crushes the whole spontaneity thing.) Get a few kids on the block together and play kick the can. Teach them how to play. Play it with them. The next day, shoo them out the door and see what happens.
3 – Organized Sports
Maybe spontaneous outdoor play truly is a thing of the past. Maybe if we want kids to exercise, we have to arrange it. Team sports are a great way to get your kids moving. There are loads of side benefits too. They make new friends and learn to set goals and work together. Maybe they’ll even develop a lifelong love of the sport. Baseball, football, hockey, basketball. Take your pick.
My personal favorite is soccer. My kids started young, and it has really become our family game. It’s played all over the world. It’s extremely athletic, and it’s got a great mix of individual skills and team play. An added bonus is that it’s pretty inexpensive to play. You don’t need a lot of gear, just a soccer ball, some shin guards, and a pair of cleats. Most communities have a local club you can join, and they put together some great soccer team packages that include uniforms and maybe even extras like warm-ups and backpacks. If you’re kids are anything like mine, they’ll love being on the team and looking the part in their matching uniforms.
So there you have it. 3 fairly simple ways to get your kids outside and exercising. Life is too short to spend it alone in front of a screen. They may grumble a bit now, but I’m betting they’ll thank you for it someday. At least that’s what I’m hoping.
Teresa Opara is an accountant, a mom, and a soccer enthusiast. One way she expresses her passion is by promoting custom design soccer uniform solutions available online.