Children Physical Fitness

Fitness for children: Tips for great workouts for kids

For parents looking to provide more physical activity for their children, there is good news: nature has already done half the work for you. Kids naturally want to be active; what adult hasn't watched a group of seven-year-olds at play and wished they had half their energy? The growing problem of obesity and lethargy in children stems from the lack of encouragement and from a sedentary lifestyle, as well as from negative attitudes of adults, rather than from children's aversion to exercise.

So what can parents do to keep their kids active? For one, they can evaluate their own attitudes about fitness. When adults complain about doing any physical activity, from working out to housework, their children pick up on it. Getting kids involved in chores such as vacuuming, doing the dishes and working in the yard helps them build an active lifestyle. Help make fitness a positive, fun experience by having a positive attitude yourself.

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To motivate kids to get up off the couch, limit the amount of time they are allowed to watch TV and play video games. When they do play video games, encourage them to choose those that involve movement. There are many games on the market that require the player to dance, play a guitar or swing an imaginary baseball bat.

When shopping around for a gym membership, parents should look for a facility that offers child exercise classes. For a fee, a parent can drop off their child for a fun workout customized to the child's age group. Kids have the opportunity to socialize as well as get into shape, and parents get a little "me time."

For a workout after school and on weekends, help your child find a sport they enjoy. I recommend only allowing one sport at a time; while in today's fast-paced world, children are encouraged to be just as overloaded as adults, they should still have plenty of free time. When contemplating signing a kid up for a sport, remember to keep an open mind: don't pigeonhole your child by saying, ""She is the studious, quiet type who wouldn't do well on a team,"" or ""He needs a ''guy'' sport like football, not gymnastics"." These attitudes will influence how your little one sees her- or himself and can affect their willingness to try new physical activities. If your child is not interested in softball or soccer, look into options you may not have thought of, such as golf, swimming or even badminton. Evaluate whether your youngster would do best competing against a team, individuals or him- or herself.

Finally, teach your children workouts they can do on their own, or better yet, one-on-one with you. Yoga, pilates and even gentle weightlifting are noncompetitive and a great way to spend quality time with the kids. No matter how big your yard is, or how much time you have, the best way to get a great workout for both you and your kids is to work out with them!

By Kat Derrig