Kids need to get their energy out through movement and physical activity. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children need 60 minutes of physical activity a day. But since the pandemic, they aren’t getting anywhere close to that. In fact, according to a recent study, kids’ physical activity has decreased 20% since the start of COVID.
It’s understandable considering the stress parents and kids have been under over the past couple of years. Parents have turned to screen-time to keep kids entertained while they work, schools have gone virtual which adds to the amount of screen time and shutdowns have made it hard to get out of the house.
But parents shouldn’t be too hard on themselves, because there are many ways to get kids back on track. As the founder and CEO of Zing!, I’ve spent the last two years working to create fun-powered experiences to help kids, and their busy parents, feel amazing through movement, mindfulness, and play.
Here are five ways you can make fitness a family affair and get your kids excited about moving again.
Make Exercise Fun
Remember, exercise doesn’t always mean going to the gym or playing a sport. There are tons of ways to get your kids moving that are fun and age-appropriate. For example, you can set up an obstacle course around the house or in your backyard. Make it a creative, fun game for your child and you. Play your favorite songs, do bear crawls over your child’s bear toys, jump like a bunny rabbit over the lines you make with chalk on the driveway, run from the swings to the side and skip on the grass. This will get both of you active, will allow you to bond with your child, and do something fun & engaging. You could set it up on a regular basis where you come up with new moves and games together. Feel free to invite local families to get in on the action.
Incorporate Movement into Everyday Activities
There are a lot of times during the day when we are sitting or standing still. Instead of being stationary, challenge your family to a little game. When you and the kids are brushing your teeth in the morning see how many squats you can do in two minutes. This gets your family moving and ensures you are brushing your teeth for the recommended late! A win-win for your overall health! You can also have your kids do some running in place while putting away the laundry. You guys can work together and take movement breaks during the putting away process. These are a few ways to get your kids moving while also tackling other chores at the same time.
Implement Breath Work
Getting your heart rate up is important, but it’s also important to recognize how your body recovers from fitness. By implementing breathwork into your day-to-day routine, you and your kids can start to experience both the physical and physiological benefits that come from fitness. One of my favorite breathwork activities to do with kids is back-to-back breathing. You and your child can sit on the floor in a cross-legged position, leaning comfortably against each other’s backs. Your backs are straight and your palms are on the knees. Take a deep inhale for 3 counts, then exhale deeply together for 3 counts. Repeat this several times, focusing on keeping the breath in rhythm together. When you finish, you can have a discussion with your child about how they feel. Ask if they can feel their partner’s movements. Do they feel connected? Calm? Peaceful?
Make Screen-Free Time a Family Affair
Instead of telling your kids, it’s time to take a screen break, have the whole family take some screen-free time every day. Parents tend to spend a lot of time on screens as well, so putting them away as a family shows kids the importance of carving out time for something else. When you put the screens away, take that time to go for a walk together, play a game of tag or have a dance party while making dinner. These are all ways to get kids moving and count towards their recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
Keep It Simple
You don’t need fancy equipment to get kids moving. As long as you keep it simple and age-appropriate, kids will get excited about fitness. Also, make sure it’s a positive experience for everyone involved. Cheer each other on and feel proud of your accomplishments. A fun way to make sure everyone in the family feels included is to allow each person to keep the physical activity of the day. For example, mom could pick a dance party one day, dad could pick a walk the next, and the kids could pick a game of tag on the third. This way everyone has a stake in the game and you are allowing the kids to get involved and take ownership of their own fitness journeys.