I get that it’s winter. 

I get that it’s freezing (heck, we got 10 inches of snow last week!). 

But my kids are ANTSY to move

And even though it might not feel like it when you’ve got children running circles around the house, flailing body parts and jumping up and down all.day.long, your children might not be getting enough exercise. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the last 30 years, leaving more than a THIRD of our children overweight or obese (source). Genetics and diet play a role, yes, but our trend towards inactivity can also be to blame.

Exercise is important for children for the following reasons:

  1. It controls their weight.
  2. It helps them sleep better at night, for longer and higher quality.
  3. It helps them have higher self-esteem and self confidence by improving their well being.
  4. Exercise reduces blood pressure.
  5. Exercise reduces risk of diabetes and some types of cancer.

The American Heart Association recommends, for children 2 and older, 60 minutes of physical activity a day.  If you don’t have an hour, split it up in two 30-minute periods.  So the question is:

How can we as parents get our children to LOVE fitness?

Here are five easy ways to get started today!


Be the change you wish to see!

Our kids pattern behavior that they see in us, whether it be positive or negative.  Make sure that you yourself are meeting the recommended daily exercise requirements.  For adults, this means at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.  Sweat doesn’t necessarily have to be involved – you can take a walk around the block, work in the yard or play Frisbee.  As long as you’re moving, it counts!  Create a habit of physical activity for yourself and your children will most likely follow suit!

Get them involved in SPORTS!

In most states, children as young as 4 years old can be involved in community sports such as soccer, baseball and gymnastics (we all know how Henry’s soccer season went. Winking smile).  Karate is also a great option – often perfect for children who need a little more discipline structure.  Childhood involvement in sport activities has been proven to increase the likelihood of ADULT involvement in such activities.  Contact your local recreation park to learn more about sign up dates and deadlines!


Head to the park!

Exercise should be FUN and who doesn’t have fun at the park!  Playing at the park for 30-60 minutes should provide plenty of physical activity for your child!  YOU can even get in a good workout at the same time.  Think Monkey Bar Pull-ups, pumping your legs on the swing set or triceps dips off the park bench.  <-although I gotta say, it is kinda nice to just sit on the bench in peace.

Make it a FAMILY affair!

Get outside and play active games, such as “Red Rover”, “Capture the Flag” or “Tag”.  Take family walks down at your local track or greenway and let your little ones run beside you.  Better yet, bring their bikes along – just don’t forget the helmets!


Purchase active video games.

If all else fails and you’ve got to stay inside, purchase an interactive video game system, such as Wii Fit, XBox 360 Kinect or a Playstation Move.  The initial investment for these products might be steep, but they can be “played” everyday and are a great way to sneak exercise into your child’s day.  (We’re “borrowing” my sister’s Wii right now and LOVE it for those days we can’t get outside.)


Overall, I think one of the best gifts we can give our children is SELF ESTEEM.  Yes, self, meaning it must spring from within them.  But when we encourage and praise (both when they win AND lose), we play a role in fostering up that child’s self image. 

Tell them they’re super fast (!!). 

That you’ve never seen moves like that (!!).

That they have a super high jumps (!!).

(use the word super a lot). 

Hands down, praise is one of the best parenting tools I have in my bag of tricks!  (it also happens to work on husbands too. #amiright)


QUESTION:  Any tips to add??  How do you get your kids off the couch?


Join the Conversation


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  1. Thanks for starting them young…. on my blog I am working on getting the teens/tweens moving and feeling good good about themselves!! Always better when they have parents that get involved and spread the fitness love… keep on rocking it!

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  3. We are super fortunate to belong to a wonderful family fitness center. I can sign my Girlie into Supervised Swim at the pool or Supervised Gym (they play lots of fun active games!) while I work out. There’s even a family yoga class that we enjoy together. Soon, she’ll be old enough to go into the “Fit Spot” with big screen Dance Dance Revolution, video game stationary bikes, and all kinds of mini fitness equipment(with lots of supervision and training of course!). I love that going to the gym is something that we do together, that this is a normal part of our daily life.

  4. Great post! I teach 3rd grade, and it irritates me to no end that the only time they get to move is 45 minutes of daily PE. No recess. Even just 15 minutes, in my opinion, would make a huge difference. I’ve also found that when you don’t give kids the option to “veg” out, their natural curiosity and desire to explore, play, and move really comes out! But…buying those video games or allowing them to sit during the day watching hours of TV stifles that natural curiosity and desire to move.

  5. I love this! I agree from the above comment! Practice what you preach! Drake is only 10 months but I take him to mini-care while I workout and sometimes out by the gym area once we are done. Otherwise we go snowshoeing or running in the stroller!

  6. Great ideas! Role-modeling is especially powerful. My baby sister is 10, and she loves tagging along on her scooter when I go running or when I take the dogs on a walk. She’ll see me doing chin ups and ask me to lift her (she’s a teeny one!) so she can try…such good stuff!

    Oh, and for the video games, I LOOOVE “Just Dance” for the Kinect. So dang fun, and can really get you huffin’ and puffin’ after awhile. There’s one for the Wii, too, I just forget the name.

  7. Yes, yes, yes. This is the subject I’m most passionate about! Even though my son is only two, I think about this stuff constantly. He’s been swimming since he was 15 mos and we plan to keep him in lessons until he tells us he’s over it. It tires him out and he LOVES it. I also try to take him outside for at least an hour every day. We go to the playground, run around the backyard, or just walk around the block. We also entered him in a kids 100m race last Fall and he’s SO proud of his medal — he wears it all the time. Whenever we take him running in the jogging stroller with us, he has to wear it! I cannot wait until he’s running alongside me though!