We all know how important exercise is for kids – and how little of it they sometimes get.
Children and adolescents should have at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. With the busy schedules we often keep, you may be wondering just how to make that happen. Any extra time you can extend in this area is well worth the effort though. Jackie Brockman, Executive Director of the Fairborn YMCA, believes physical activity can improve mood and self-confidence, increase immunity, and lead to better sleep – in addition to strengthening the body. “What parent doesn’t want these results for their child?” she says, suggesting that parents seek out activities for their kids that are varied, enjoyable and age-appropriate.
How can you take the “work” out of “working out” and slide in some extra physical activity in your family’s day? Check out a few of these ideas.
Got fifteen extra minutes?
- Sneak in activity through simple, fun games. With her own kids, Brockman plays Red Light, Green Light and Tag, which involve running. She also recommends playing Simon Says using fitness movements like squats and push-ups.
- Get everyone fired up in the morning with a quick dance party. Let your kids take turns choosing the soundtrack.
- Play to your kids’ competitive nature. Children love to be timed. See how fast or how long it takes them to complete a task.
- Have a dog? Ask your teen to assume responsibility for Fido’s morning walk.
- Enjoy some fresh air. Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids by Rebecca Cohen is packed with quick, simple ways to engage with the outdoors year round.
- Need to get somewhere that’s close? Try walking, biking, scootering or roller blading there. If you must drive, park a short distance away from your destination to sneak in some extra steps.
Got an extra hour?
- Try some new games with the neighborhood crowd. PBS Kids offers a huge list of suggestions at Zoom Games. Choose from “Clothespin Tag,” “3 Ball Football,” “Crab Soccer” and many more.
- Take a long stroll around your neighborhood or local park. Make the route more interesting by listening for bird calls, identifying flowers and trees or looking for insects.
- Head to a nearby playground. Brockman suggests having kids treat the equipment as an obstacle course to encourage continuous movement.
- Swap out your regular evening routine for a night of jumping around. Sky Zone Trampoline Park offers “Open Jump” until 8:00 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
- “Find out what your kids have fun with and do more of it,” says Brockman. This could include enrolling your child in an after school activity such as swimming, dance or martial arts. Older kids interested in using exercise equipment can learn how to properly through the YMCA of Greater Dayton’s Kid Fit program.
Got a whole day?
- Sign up to walk or run a charity 5K or 10K as a family. Even before race day rolls around, you should log plenty of active family time preparing for the big day. You’ll find literally hundreds of area events listed at www.runningintheusa.com.
- Take a road trip to one of Ohio’s great state parks. You’ll find waterfalls at Hocking Hills State Park, disc golf at Alum Creek State Park and swimming at Deer Creek State Park. Start the search for your perfect park at http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/.
- Check out the Cheetah Run at the Cincinnati Zoo which provides a perfect combination of animals and exercise.
- Enjoy a self-guided tour of the University of Dayton’s campus. Download a map and instructions at www.udayton.edu/_resources/files/visit/selfguided_tour.pdf
This list is just a starting point – the Dayton area offers practically endless opportunities for residents seeking an active lifestyle. Make your own “favorites” list of the physical activities your family enjoys most and pretty soon you won’t have to “sneak” fitness in at all!