School’s out and summer is in full swing. What better time of year to try and encourage your kids to be more active? Regular exercise has so many benefits for youngsters. It’s not just about building strength and keeping their hearts healthy. It’s also about meeting new people, playing by the rules, and working as a team. Do your kids prefer to stay indoors and play computer games or watch TV? If so, you’re not alone. Most parents have a battle to get their kids moving. Here are some top tips to help make your children more active this summer.
- Design a versatile, child-friendly garden
The easiest and most affordable way of getting more exercise is to get into the backyard, play games and have fun as a family. You don’t need to spend any money at all, and you have a great day together. If your backyard is a little drab, why not carry out a mini makeover?
Start by clearing the area of any trash, debris or garden waste. Mow the lawn, and weed patios and flower beds. If your garden is all one level, why not add some interest with a decking area or a mezzanine? Create different zones to make your garden more versatile and child-friendly. You could encourage them to get into gardening by giving them control of a vegetable patch or a flower bed. Set up some goals and invest in some garden games. Check out https://www.pinterest.com/explore/outdoor-games/ for ideas. Place a paddling pool on the decking or dig a hole for a sunken sandpit. Put down some bark chippings and stepping stones, or paint an old shed and turn it into a candy-striped beach hut. Lay down some paving stones to form a mini karting track or add a water feature. Providing they are fenced off, ponds can be a fantastic addition to children’s gardens. They look amazing, and they can also be very soothing, especially after an afternoon of running around and letting off steam. Take a look at www.ColoradoPondPros.com for inspiration.
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- Limit indoor play
Do you have a son that is glued to a games console or a daughter who’s always chatting to friends online? If so, it’s a good idea to set limits on indoor activities. When it’s sunny outside, it’s a shame for kids to be cooped up inside. Set times when your children can play on the computer or watch TV, and encourage outdoor activities during other parts of the day. Go out for a walk, visit the local park or simply get out into the garden and run around.
- Get into the great outdoors
Summer holidays are an excellent opportunity to explore and discover the great outdoors. You may live close to a national park or the coast, but never have the time to take advantage of the scenery. Make an effort to sit down and plan some days out in the outdoors. Organize a family camping trip, or hire some bikes and go cycling. Swim in freshwater lakes or hike up a mountain. Your kids will get the chance to enjoy amazing experiences, as well as an excellent workout. Grab a map, sit down, and get planning. If you live a little further away, you may wish to consider arranging a staycation and enjoying a few days away.
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- Research local teams
Kids learn a huge amount by playing sport and joining teams. From an early age, sport teaches you to play by the rules, help each other out, and work towards goals. Most kids also love spending time with their friends and making new friends. For many children, sport is also really fun. If your children have shown an interest in baseball, soccer or basketball, find out about local teams and clubs. At a young age, kids usually take part in regular practice sessions. When they get older, they can start competing against other teams and taking part in state and national competitions.
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- Try a range of activities
Not all children are sporting maestros. However, this doesn’t mean that they can’t enjoy exercise. If your child isn’t interested in popular sports, introduce them to other activities. Just because they’re not the next NFL star, doesn’t mean that sport isn’t for them. If team games don’t appeal, why not try individual pursuits? Your child may excel in a sport like climbing, dancing or cycling, for example. Try and encourage them to be open-minded and to try new things. There’s an assumption that being good at sport means excelling in the main sports. But this isn’t true, and there are hundreds of activities you can try.
- Exercise as a family and build your child’s confidence
Children learn from their parents. If you don’t exercise much, it’s likely that your kids won’t take much interest in exercise. Set a good example, and spend time exercising together as a family. Take a trip to the local pool or book a tennis court for the afternoon. Set up a football pitch in the garden, or go to the local park with friends and family and host a rounders tournament. Take the dog for a walk or go for a bike ride around the village.
Some children feel self-conscious when they play sport. Perhaps they’re not naturally talented, or they’re often last to get picked when choosing teams at school. Try and take the pressure off, and make exercise fun. Boost your child’s confidence. Complement them and congratulate them when they do something great. Confidence can make all the difference to kids. Once they feel more confident in their abilities, you’ll notice rapid development and improvement. Try and get the message across that it’s not essential to be a top-class performer. Most people aren’t brilliant at every sport. Let them know that it’s great to win, but taking part is more important.
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- Switch up the school run
If you’re used to driving your kids to school, switching up your commute is a fantastic way of getting your kids to be more active. If you live close by, you could walk to and from school each day. If you’re a little further away, you could cycle to school. When your kids are on holiday, make simple changes such as walking to the local store and using stairs rather than elevators.
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- Raise money for a good cause
We all like to do our bit to help good causes and a charity event is a perfect source of motivation for getting in shape. Have a look around for details of charity runs, swims, bike rides or walks and sign up. Set yourself a family fundraising target, and train together. Go for long walks or regular swimming sessions. Encourage each other and make your training sessions fun.
- Plan fun-filled, active days out
It can be tough to keep kids occupied in the holidays. It’s fine to have chilled out days of not doing much, but try and get out as much as possible. Even if you just go for a walk, or you spend the day in the garden, it’s beneficial to stretch your legs and enjoy some fresh air. When you’re planning activities and days out, look for active pursuits, which are also fun. Why not visit a climbing wall or go to a water park? Try trampolining or buy a kite. Play beach volleyball or hire some rollerskates and go to the promenade. When you’re having fun, you barely notice that your body’s working hard. If kids associate exercise with enjoyable activities, they’re much more likely to want to try them again.
- Educate your kids
There’s no point in telling kids that exercise is good for you and then leaving it at that. Explain why it’s beneficial to be active, and how exercise affects your body and mind. Physical activity increases your stamina, strength, and flexibility. It improves your circulation and cuts your risk of serious diseases. If you work out regularly, you’re less likely to develop heart disease, strokes and type 2 diabetes. You don’t need to go into all the details with younger kids. But sure they have an understanding. If they know why exercise is advantageous, they’re more likely to take an interest.
Sometimes, all kids want to do in the holidays is watch DVDs and play console games. But it’s really important for them to get out and enjoy some exercise. Exercise has so many physical and psychological benefits for children and adults. Try and make this a summer of outdoor fun for all the family. Try new activities, challenge yourselves, and discover the great outdoors. Limit time spent in front of the computer and TV screens, and get your kids involved in team sports or individual pursuits. Get together with other family members or friends to take part in charity events. Or organize some days out at the beach or the park. Turn your garden into a child-friendly space. Get some outdoor games out and design areas to stimulate and interest them. Set a good example, and talk to your kids about why exercise is good for them. Try and alter your way of life, so that you embrace activity as a family. You can have fun, get healthy, and spend more quality time together as a family.