Monday, August 9, 2010

Keeping Kids (and ourselves) Fit

As we all know keeping fit is tough.  We can always come  up with excuses to put it off.  It is important for us to set a good example for our children and a great way to do that is to make fitness a family event.  How much activity is enough? According to the National Association of Sports and Physical Education, preschool and elementary aged children should get at least 30 - 60 minutes of adult-supervised physical activity and 60 minutes of free play, daily. 
 One way to get all that activity in is to create fun active challenges for you and your kids to try together. 
Preschool Age:  Kids in this age range are developing large muscle and are beginning to master physical activities.  Try out this ideas:
Kick a ball around the house.
Count how many times you can jump up and down the driveway in 1 minute.
Play follow the leader.
Make an obstacle course under/over/around tables, beds, chair.
Take a walk, go to the playground, dance to music.
K- 3rd grade: Children at this age are ready for more complex task and have a tendency to be more active. They also love competition so you might hold a family contest to see who can do the most sit ups, jumping jacks, squats... Other activities could include:
A bike ride around the block.
Playing catch.
Jumping rope.
Tug of war.
3rd - 6th grade:  This age child is building muscle, strength and self esteem.  They love sports and group activities.
Become a member of a sports team.
Walk a mile and try to improve your time.
Rope climbing.
Visit a fitness trail.
Play basketball, soccer,football together.
Go kayaking, skiing.

Keep it FUN!  Use your imagination and create challenges that are unique to your family.  You do not want to be the fitness police.  Forcing your child to go out and play may increase resentment and resistance. Instead, reward their efforts with praise, and look for ways to incorporate your fitness ideas into everyday routines.

Kids who are active at a young age, rather than plopped in front of the computer or TV, tend to stay active throughout their lives. Your challenges don’t have to be complicated, just something that gets the body moving and the heart rate up. You’ll have fun and enjoy quality time with your kids.

Modified from Nestles.

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