You have a motivation to work out, and perhaps exercise could be a way of life for you.  However, the determination to carry you through a workout session isn’t what carries your children through one. Children live in the moment, and it doesn’t matter if you have a five year old or fifteen year old: making fitness fun is of the essence! Here’s how to ensure your kids are getting enough daily exercise—and just what to do about it if they resist.

Fitness Facts for the Whole Family

Family running on path in parkJust like you do, your children need to jump, walk and play their heart out—in order to raise their heart rate for optimal health. Additionally, children need to get enough exercise in daily in order to sustain a lean body frame, lower blood pressure and stay happy and confident!

So how much exercise is enough for your growing children’s minds and bodies?

The amount of exercise your children need per day varies on their age, but as a general rule of thumb, they should undergo no less than 2 hours of moderate to vigorous exercise. For a toddler and/or preschooler, this means that they need at least 60 minutes of free play, and at least 60 minutes of organized play (such as kickball or a dance class.)

Children who are in grade school need to have one hour (minimum) of rigorous exercise. This can be broken up in 20 minute sessions, such as recess, soccer practice or free time to play at the park.

Make Exercise Fun, and Kids Will Never Treat It as a Chore

Do you have preteens or teenagers in the house who seem less than enthused to join you for a bike ride? Perhaps even though you enjoy running, rock climbing or hiking, your kids drag behind. If that’s the case, make exercising a family affair! The golden rule of thumb is to set an example of what living an active life means.  That way, they’ll be less likely to resist and more likely to join in on the fun! Not so sure what type of fitness is kid appropriate? Here are just some of the many ways to engage them for hours on end:

  • Do you love a good Zumba workout? Check into Family Zumba and once a week, take your kids with you for a Latin inspired workout!
  • Take a look at your surroundings. If you’re near the beach, make a day of Frisbee throwing and boogie boarding (all of which is great exercise!) If you’re near the mountains, make Sundays the day you go rock climbing with your pre-teen. Or, no matter where you may live, sign up the entire family for the next charity walk/run.
  • Plan fitness around your kid’s interests. Does your 15 year old love volleyball? Does your teenage son have a passion for baseball? Is your playful kindergartener always dancing? Engage your kids in activities that raise their attention span—and their heart rate at the same time! Get your neighbors (and their kids) together for a fun day of baseball and burgers; spend an afternoon shooting hoops with your daughter or simply get more involved in  her ballet dance recital (and therefore raise her confidence as a dancer!)

Your children’s overall health and wellness isn’t just in your control—it’s your job. By setting an example of what fitness means and frequently introducing new activities to do together as a family, you’ll be giving them the gift of a lifetime.  Fitness is a way of life, and the earlier they can begin that habit, the healthier and happier they’ll be!