Let's be honest with each other, childhood obesity is an epidemic. I'd wager that diet is only a small part of the problem, the larger issue to me seems to be all those hours spent sedentary in front of a screen. You have the power to motivate your kids into a healthy lifestyle, and we will show you how to make exercising with kids fun! Each kid is different, and will likely respond more positively to one activity or another so be prepared to adjust accordingly.
One thing that all kids have in common is that they love to play! Try one of these classic outdoor games!
Always Safety First
Before we hop into some actual activities it's important to stay safe. Pads and mouth-guards aren't generally required unless you've got a little one that is into contact sports. The vast majority of ideas on this list were chosen because they are low impact. We are here to have fun exercising with kids, not to get them hurt! You will want to make sure that both you and the kiddos have gotten a good stretch in before any rigorous physical activity.
Once you've stretched those muscles out, you're ready to rock and roll. Do whatever you need to burn some calories, but once you're done exercising with kids you're going to need a cool-down period. Your heart isn't made to work overtime and then stop suddenly.
Skipping a cool-down period can cause a plethora of problems such as fainting or dizziness. Children will be a bit more flexible regarding this, but since you're exercising with kids ensure that you take 10-15 minutes to cool down and establish good habits.
Additionally, no-tie shoelaces are a great idea for exercising with kids. The game won't get stopped endlessly and you can stay in the zone! That's always a good thing.
Electronics Aren't The Enemy
While it can be a great idea to get away from the constant assault of screens, they can actually turn into your greatest ally. Avoid walking up and stating that it's time to exercise, rather ask your babies if they want to play with you. I've never heard a child answer "no" to this question.
If you've got Wii Sports or Wii Fit most kids will be eager to play a round of boxing or bowling. You can even up the stakes by stipulating that the loser will do 20 jumping jacks and the winner only needs to do 10. Don't hesitate to throw a few rounds because exercising with kids is a great opportunity to get your own work out in!
Video games are all well and good, but maybe you lack a console. If that's the case then hop on YouTube and pull up an exercise video. Both of my cherubs love following along with what happens on screen. My daughter in particular loves dancing, and when I pull up ZUMBA videos she can go for hours at a time.
Connect With Nature
Do you have outdoorsy kids? If not, it might be because they didn't realize that was an option. I thank my father often for instilling my love of nature. Whether you've got a nearby river that's safe for swimming or just a patch of forest to go hiking around in, it's worth a trip to see how your kiddos respond. Lead by example and show that you're having fun, and magically your children will decide to have fun themselves.
Dogs are great for pumping up the energy of any outdoor trip. There are times I don't feel up to running around outdoors, but the second I cut my puppers loose and I see how excited they are it becomes infectious. Exercising with kids can be so simple, just say "Let's chase the dogs" and they'll do wind sprints all on their own.
There Goes The Neighborhood
Neighbors can be your greatest asset when it comes to exercising with kids. A game of tag with just a handful of players is OK, but it will probably be short-lived. If you really want to make a marathon day, call up some neighbors and see if they want to join in. You might get told no, but nobody will fault you for trying to open a few doors and build some bridges.
Calling kids out to just run around might not work, but if you set up a big outdoor pool or slip 'n slide? You better believe that the yard will get filled up. I won't suggest inviting the neighborhood over every week (unless you really want to), but it can be a nice diversion for everybody involved once or twice a year.
Time For Sports!
Playing catch, hitting some balls around, shooting hoops. There is no limit to the number of sports that most kids won't hesitate to jump into. Safety gear might not be a bad idea, because even something like flag football can end up getting pretty heavy depending on how bad the other team wants to taste victory.
I'm not saying I expect you to throw an elbow at your kids, but accidents definitely happen so a mouth-guard can save you from some expensive dental work. It might seem over the top to some people, but lacking safety gear can turn a small oops into an absolute tragedy. You can't be too careful when it comes to the health and safety of your little ones.
Keeping your kids safe is priority one. Keeping them from being stinky is priority two. A quick spray in those well-worn sneakers with our kid's deodorizer shoe spray can ensure that your kids' feet won't offend once you're back home.
Some kids aren't high-energy. My son is a good example of that. When my daughter is out there busting her backside competing for glory, my little boy is happier sitting on the sidelines and playing with his trucks. If you have a relaxed kid, don't force them into anything. Take a nice walk with them or a trip to the park. There's nothing wrong with exercising with kids in a more relaxed and less organized fashion.