Tips for Getting Your Kids off the Couch this Summer

Monday, July 14, 2008 - 4:09pm

By Michele Silence, MA

By now everyone knows how important it is to get kids off the couch and moving. However, if the kids are used to surfing the Internet, playing video games that don’t require much movement (like the Wii), or watching hours upon hours of TV, it may not be that easy. In order to give them some much needed exercise, you’ll have to motivate them to be active. Here are some suggestions:

Find What They Like

Take a week to explore different activities. Take a bike ride together; go swimming; hike up a woodsy trail; or jump on a boogie board and ride some waves. Try out anything that could easily turn into a weekly activity with the kids. Find out which one(s) your kids express the most interest in and seem to be the most excited about. Do these activities at least once a week with them. It is important that you participate in these activities with your kids. Not only do you bond with your kids, but your excitement for these activities is contagious and will get your kids more pumped.

Limit TV and Computer Time

That, or make it conditional by only allowing it after an hour of exercise a day. This may seem like an uphill battle as kids want to chat with their friends on IM, use Club Penguin, or write on their friends’ MySpace pages. Expect gripes, whining, and (let’s be honest here) tantrums. However, when they go outside to ride bikes with friends or play a basketball game, they’ll quickly see how much fun it is.

Get Your Kid a Gym Membership

This time of year gyms are giving away great deals. If your kids are 16 or older, get them a membership or add them to your own. Encourage their friends’ parents to get their children a membership too. When a few kids get together and go to the gym, it becomes more than just exercise—it’s an opportunity for your kids to socialize while getting a workout. Now gyms, more than ever before, have added fun free classes such as hip-hop aerobics, group cycling, and even air band and krumping classes.

Take part in public Walks/Runs

Just about every weekend you can find a 5 or 10K walk or run to benefit a worthy cause. These events are great motivators for kids. They will see other kids exercising and doing well, and there’s and undeniable sense of excitement in the air. These public walks and runs also foster a sense of competitiveness along with an overall feeling of accomplishment. Many times, the sponsors of these walks/runs hand a medal, t-shirt, or certificate at the finish line, which your child will undoubtedly treasure.

Whatever you choose to do, the important thing is to do something. Help your child start enjoying exercise—just keep focusing on the fun aspect of exercise. Kids today need to move more and eat less. When you help them do either, you are immediately enabling them to improve their health. More than that, you are setting a pattern that they will follow later into their adulthoods and someday pass on to their own kids.

*This article is intended for general information purposes only, is not individual-specific, nor is it intended to replace the advice of your healthcare team.