How much exercise do your kids get? Childhood obesity is on the rise in the United States and although I think there are several societal factors that are contributing to this fact, one of the big problems is that kids just aren’t moving. If you really stop and think about it, most kids are not getting nearly as much exercise as we did when we were kids. I read recently that children should get at least 1 hours of active exercise per day. And that does not include exercising their thumbs on Minecraft. With budget cuts and the increase emphasis on test scores, public schools have cut gym classes to just twice a week, unlike when I was in elementary school and we went to gym every day. And with most family budgets being cut back too, parents cannot afford to put their kids in the same amount of activities that they once did. So, what is a family to do? Get creative!
First and foremost, use what you have. We spend time with the kids outside on most sunny days. We take trips to the local parks and make use of what they have there. A park near us has a skatepark that we take Josh to a few times each week. He spends an hour or two riding his bike or scooter through jumps and bowls. He is having so much fun that he doesn’t realize that he is getting exercise. There is also a track located next to the skatepark where Brittany and I walk while Josh is riding. Most of the time, we will walk about 1 1/2-2 miles while Josh is riding. That is extra movement that Brittany and I are both getting that we wouldn’t be if we had stayed at home. This park also has a gymnasium with a basketball court and indoor track for those rainy days when we can’t get outside.
We also take advantage of the local Greenway for bike riding and running. Typically John and I will run the Greenway 3 times each week and at least one of those, we take the kids on their bikes. If the weather is nice, it is not uncommon for us to be out there with them for 2 hours or more.
Fun exercise is also season dependent. In the Spring, we spend more time on bicycles and the trampoline but in the summer you will also find the kids swimming for a few hours each day. In the Fall, hiking is fun for our family. The winter is the hardest time to get exercise in for the kids but I have found the best way is to look for pockets in each day where the weather is warm enough to go out and then schedule exercise in that time. Sometimes this might be directly after school or after dinner. Even if it is just a walk after dinner, everything counts.
The key to getting more movement in your child’s day is to make it a priority and schedule it. Make it fun for them and become a participant too. If it is done right, exercise shouldn’t be burden but a fun family activity. Now, go out there and get moving!