Tips to Keep Kids Moving at Home

  • Set a good example… Your own heart-healthy habits will help your child develop the same. Fit in physical activity whenever you can in whatever form you can. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park further from the store and walk. Take an exercise class, use a yoga DVD, or join an adult sport league.

    Give your child chores requiring physical exertion. Keep in mind his strength, coordination, and maturity. Raking leaves, mowing, washing the car, walking the family dog, and working in the garden are all good examples of kid- and teen-friendly chores.

    Encourage your child to sign-up for lessons or a sport to ensure physical activity during non-school hours. From soccer and ballet to martial arts and skateboarding, whether recreational or competitive, a team or individual activity, the important thing is that your child enjoys the activity and gets moving!

    Limit kids’ “stationary” leisure time— television, video games, etc.— and substitute physical activity. When the kids do spend time in front of the TV, add activity. Stretch or lift weights during the show. Challenge the family to see who can do the most jumping jacks or pushups during commercials.

    Provide opportunities and equipment to encourage active kids. Organized sports aren’t the only fitness options. The key is making opportunities for an active lifestyle. Maybe it’s a regular play date at the park or the pool, or a mom-kid bike ride. Have equipment available so it’s easy to “go out and play.” For instance, keep a tub of jump ropes, roller skates, lawn games, and various balls on hand. You may be able to stock up at yard sales and sport resale shops. Aim for 60 minutes of active play a day for your child (and at least 30 minutes of physical activity for you.)

    Plan family fun, social occasions, and vacations around physical activity. As a family, go bowling, take a walk, or bike together. In bad weather, try active games on the family gaming system, have an at-home “dance party,” or play “Twister” or other active games. Plan a birthday party with physically active games and activities for your child and his or her guests. Spend time with other active families with shared interests. Let vacations revolve around a physical activity everyone enjoys, such as skiing, biking, kayaking, or other calorie-burning fun.

    Adapted from tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, National PTA, Kids Health, and Small Steps.