You’ve heard it a thousand times: Today’s kids are less active and more overweight than ever before, with diabetes rates rising every year. But how to get kids moving, when TV, video games, smartphones and homework are all conspiring to keep them on the couch? The answer is walking – it’s the easiest, simplest lifestyle change for busy lives. Even better, walking is easy to work into your day without kids noticing, as long as you keep it fun. Here’s how.
1. Buy everyone a step-tracker. Kids love gadgets, and kids are naturally competitive. That makes the Fitbit and other step-trackers a natural fit for kids, who will instantly take to the challenge of reaching specific goals. And once they start tracking their steps, they’ll want to top their siblings (or Mom!) and you’ll be off the hook for nagging.
2. Park further away. This one works pretty much anywhere – at the grocery store, the doctor’s office, or a soccer game. Instead of circling the lot looking for the closest space, do the opposite and park at the far end. Not only do you add a surprising number of steps, you save yourself from the stress of parking lot rage.
3. Fly a kite. How do you get a kite in the air? You run with it. And even once it’s aloft, you have to keep up with it. That’s the beauty of kite flying – it’s exercise disguised as play.
4. Have a scavenger hunt. Again, kids love competition. And they also like mysteries, treasure hunts – and of course, prizes. Next time you’re planning a family stroll, picnic, or hike, give your kids a list of things to find. You can have them collect objects like acorns and shells, or you can give them a list of landmarks and locations to photograph as they locate them. Let the kids help choose the reward ahead of time so they’ll be truly enthusiastic.
5. Add playful props. A jump rope, hula hoop, or even a magic wand can be all it takes to turn a couch potato kid into a fitness fiend. Figure out which games motivate your child and take it from there.