One of our primary focuses in the health and fitness industry is to keep our youth healthy and fit. This begins on the home front setting healthy examples for our children by exercising regularly ourselves, eating a healthy diet and being active daily. Hopefully, you have already integrated health and fitness into your lives for yourself and your family. And, if you have not, now is the time to get on board. While there are excellent national initiatives to improve the fitness of our youth, sports programs, both school and county sponsored through recreation districts, there is no substitution for what we do as parents.
We are the glue that holds our youth together and health/fitness is one of the foundational elements which impact every aspect of our youth’s future, both physical and mental. Try adding one or all of the following six tips for keeping our youth fit into your family’s lifestyle and experience all the positive benefits that a life time of health and fitness may bring into your lives. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Tips for Keeping Our Youth Fit
**Start out slowly regardless of the approach you take! The last thing you want to do is turn off your child—spark their interest by keeping it simple and doable (i.e. time/money).
–Fun is tantamount! If it is fun, they are more likely to do it. And, fun is subjective—what might be fun to you may not be to them, so listen to their comments, consider their needs and take action.
–Play and they will come! Play games such as dodge ball, basketball, or baseball if that floats their boat. Introduce them to a wonderful ski trail, swimming adventure, fantastic hike, kayak or take a bike ride.
–Create positive incentives for physical activity! Find out what they want (preferably activity oriented to emphasize intrinsic motivation), and if within reason (i.e. this includes your economic and time constraints and their physical capabilities), set up an incentive program. Sixty minutes of daily exercise/activity five to six days/week and perhaps they can attend a summer camp of their choice or maybe it is a new bike or skateboard. Be creative—don’t bribe or coax though—they have to really want that “thing” or the incentive concept falls on deaf ears.
–Get them involved! Have them create the activity plan for the day. Be willing to be spontaneous when possible.
–Keep it varied! Kids become bored easily, so be creative with the activities each week. You want them to be proficient enough at an activity or skill to feel successful, so you need enough time to accomplish that end, as long as they stay on board. But, in the long run, variety works.
–Losing interest? If your kids are losing interest (and this happens to little and big exercisers alike at some point in the journey), this might be an indication that it is time to change things up a bit (see “keep it varied above”). So, be patient, open minded and guide them to the next step remembering that fitness is a marathon, not a sprint and you want them to be fit and healthy for a lifetime, not a moment in time.