Kids exercise when you exercise. Don’t believe me? I got the best call from my wife the other day regarding Gigi, our four-year-old. Kim said, “I just wanted to let you know that your daughter asked if she could do the Tony and the Kids workout video. She finished up my ab workout with me, then did Tony and the Kids. After that, she asked if she could have Shakeology for lunch.”
Ahhhh… my heart melted.
Did you know that in this country, roughly 36% of adults and 17% of children are obese? Notice that the adult obesity rate is twice as high. You see, our kids aren’t necessarily destined to be obese. They grow up and learn from us, the balloon-fillers. For a lot of parents, that’s the bad news: it starts with them.
The good news is that while they can pick up our bad habits (Myla, our seven-year-old has picked up my bad tone of voice. UGH!), they can also pick up our good ones too. We are far from perfect parents, but one thing we do relatively well is to model good fitness (fitness = exercise + nutrition + sleep) habits. Here is how we insure that our kids exercise.
Kids Exercise Step 1: Be consistent
We are morning exercisers for the most part. So when Myla says goodbye to me before school in the morning, it’s usually in the basement where I’m working out. And Gigi comes down to find me there when she eventually wakes up. On days we go to the Y, they obviously go too and understand we are there to workout. Saturday mornings, they know that Kim has her running group. So at least 10 times a week, they see us each exercising. Over the course of a year, that’s over 1,000 impressions (and that doesn’t include the different races we drag them to). If you are trying to model a behavior, doing it sporadically will make no impression at all. Do something 1,000 times a year and it can’t help but to make a difference.
Kids Exercise Step 2: Give them space
Kids Exercise Step 3: Give them gifts that encourage exercise
My primary love language is gift-giving. But what I’m learning is that while kids quickly outgrow toys, they don’t outgrow activity. So Kim and I are trying to be more intentional in giving them gifts that encourage activity. From Wheely Bugs to bikes to balls, there are no shortage of gifts that will encourage your kids to exercise, whether they know they’re exercising or not. Last year we bought them a small, indoor/outdoor trampoline and they love it, as do their friends. And don’t be afraid to go old school. Our girls have jump rope and hula hoop contests and love a good game of Daddy Dodge Ball.
Kids Exercise Step 4: Limit the TV/Computer/Video Games
According to the Neilsen Ratings, “The average American watched 34 hours 39 minutes of TV per week in Q4 2010… ” That’s nearly 5 hours a day! Or look at it another way, that’s nearly 11 weeks of watching TV a year. Just think about that. Eleven weeks of sitting, doing nothing! Almost 1/4th of an entire year spent sedentary. So start by setting the example yourself. Quit watching so much stinkin TV!
And secondly, cut theirs way back. Our kids mostly watch only on the weekends, only for a couple hours at most, and only on Netflix. Why Netflix? We don’t have cable/satellite. What we’ve noticed is that without the barrage of commercials, our kids aren’t always asking for stuff… because they don’t even know that most of that stuff exists. (DISCLAIMER: Again, we do not for a second claim to be perfect parents nor do we have perfect kids… not by a long shot.) And if you really want to give your kids video games, Nintendo Wii, Playstation Move, and Xbox Kinect all offer exercise encouraging games. But even still, I’d set limits. Hard for a controller and TV screen to beat the real thing.
Kids exercise when you exercise: Conclusion
There are other obvious examples to encourage healthy lives, such as sports and dance. And there are less obvious examples, like recruiting your kids to help you rate smoothie recipes on your website. Whatever you do, do something. When you are intentional and start combining the steps above with things like being diligent about controlling their sugar intake, not being fooled by “healthy” foods, and learning the power of praise, your kids will be well on their way.
Remember, to have active kids, you have to be actively engaged.Start My Coaching!