It was warm out, the sun was low in the sky and the world couldn’t have looked any more beautiful. I was riding my bike, listening to music and feeling like a million bucks. It occurred to me that there are too many children missing out on this euphoria. We all know how important exercise is for our physical and emotional wellbeing but I know that some parents are out there, wondering how to get their children interested in it.
Before my eldest daughter joined a gym that she absolutely loves and visits regularly (she started when she was 12 years old, which is the minimum age at most gyms), and before my youngest got into baseball and competitive dance, neither of my girls were very interested in regular exercise. I had thought that their school gym program got their heart rates up regularly but was saddened to learn that that was not the case.
Here is the key: Every child will come to love exercise if they are provided with enough choices to help them find one or more forms of exercise that they enjoy. And their parents will need to set the example by exercising themselves. Just like healthy eating, if exercise is part of a family’s lifestyle, right from the beginning, a child will exercise regularly.
So going back to a few years ago, when my girls weren’t exercising regularly, we had an important talk. I explained that it was impossible for them to feel great in their bodies for years to come without exercising. I described as many types of exercise as I could to see what the girls would be interested in doing. We talked about the fact that I do nordic pole walking and that their aunt does hula hooping to various u-tube videos (and we couldn’t believe the muscles in her arms!) We then went to a sports store and I showed them the bouncy ball they could sit on, the mini rowing machine, the punching bag, the mini trampoline, the skipping rope, and the exercise tapes. They each chose a couple of items that they wanted to use to exercise.
My girls agreed to get up half an hour earlier each week day and meet in our basement for exercise time. They each chose their favourite equipment and we agreed on a television show that we would all watch, while we exercised. Notice how I did that? Worked the television in there? Hey, we as mothers need to do what works; let’s face it! I did find that their favourite exercise of all ended up being a half hour walk or bike ride through the trees in our neighbourhood. And for those of you that say that your children won’t get up early to exercise, just tell your children that they can do their exercise as soon as they get home from school. Before the new school year starts, think about what new habits you want your family to adopt; it’s a great time to start a new regime!
How about you? What do your kids do for exercise? I would love to hear from you. And feel free to leave a link back to your own blog too if you have one, via the commentluv feature here on the site.
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Until next time,