Childhood obesity is one of the greatest problems plaguing modern society. The problem, in large part, has to do with a lack of education about proper nutrition and exercise. When we simultaneously demand that our kids sit quietly in a classroom for 8 hours a day and that they also be healthy and fit, we are holding them to a standard that us adults might not be able to meet ourselves.
It's absolutely paramount that we teach, inspire and require our kids to exercise. For the fist time in history, our life expectancy in America has gone down because of the obesity epidemic. According to a 2014 LA Times article, "Those with a body mass index, or BMI, above 40 are robbed of at least 6 1/2 years, on average, of expected life span, a study has found. And the toll in years lost rises with the degree of obesity, reaching nearly 14 years for the most obese -- those with a BMI above 55, researchers said."
Encouraging your kids to stay fit isn't about vanity, it's about good parenting. Every good parent wants their children to live fulfilling healthy lives, and making sure they know how to exercise is essential. So, what are some fun ways to boost kid's fitness?
Create Exercise Incentives
Your kids are probably a lot like you: well intentioned but not always able to take action when it comes to doing something good for themselves. Coming up with an exercise chart that's linked to incentives is a great way to get your kids in the habit of exercising. Having your kids earn screen time by exercising is a compromise that will help teach your kids about work and life balance early on. It's a good idea to create specific goals here. For example, create larger incentives for goals like running a faster mile or being able to do x amount of pushups. Measure and celebrate every bit of exercise progress big and small and your kids will thank you for it. Excitement and accountability is key.
Lead By Example
A lot of parents might not like this advice, but the best way they can inspire their kids to exercise is to lead by example and workout regularly. It's unfair and unrealistic to preach to your kids about the importance of staying fit and demanding that they exercise and not exercise yourself. It's ok if you're out of shape. When your kids see you make changes to better your life, they'll become inspired to do that for themselves. Set aside time to exercise with your kids and time to exercise by yourself.
Turn Your Kids' Interests Into Exercise
It'll be a nearly impossible feat to get your kids to exercise if you don't sell the process of staying fit as something that can be fun for them. Have your kids tell you what they think is fun and craft a workout plan for them that incorporates what they actually like to do. Do they love hiking? Set aside a day during the week where they can do that. Do they love the Hunger Games movies? Get creative and add archery into their exercise routine. Letting your kids have a sense of ownership in their health and fitness choices will help them be more invested and interested in exercise.
No matter how you inspire your kids to exercise, be sure to stress the fact that you're asking them to get serious about working out because you want the best for them. Kids aren't stupid. Tell them that obesity in children and adults is a huge problem, and that they can do something about it. You might meet a lot of resistance from your kids early on, but the lifelong workout benefits they'll receive will be well worth the fights.
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