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Fun Ways to Keep Your Kids Active

Does your child sit around the house all day, attached to his electronics? Mighty Mommy and Get-Fit Guy have expert tips on getting your kids up and moving (without letting them know that they’re exercising).

By
Cheryl Butler,
June 9, 2013
Episode #191

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Fun Ways to Keep Your Kids Active

I grew up in a very active family that enjoyed everything from golf to cross country skiing. Both my parents were school teachers and taught my siblings and me to not only exercise our brains, but our bodies as well. This meant we didn’t sit around like couch potatoes or announce that we were bored because we were used to being active and it was a regular part of our life. My husband also enjoyed a similar childhood so we both knew that we wanted our brood of 8 to live an energetic lifestyle.

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My fellow Quick and Dirty Tips colleague, Ben Greenfield (aka Get-Fit Guy), also believes in the importance of keeping kids fit. In fact, one of his recent newsletters included the results of a fascinating study done by the University of Essex.  

We’re very lucky to have Ben here with us today. Ben, why don’t you tell us about this study?

*** A Get-Fit Guy Exclusive! ***

Thanks Cheryl. I’m so glad to be here to tell you and your fans about these amazing results. This study focused on the perception of children about their parents’ activity levels. In the study, researchers asked schoolchildren to rate how active they thought their parents were. Then they had those children complete a test of their own cardio fitness. In this case, they used a “bleep” test, which is a common way to measure basic fitness levels. What researchers found was that the likelihood of the child having greater fitness based on their performance on the bleep test was directly influenced by how active that child perceived their parents to be.

In other words, kids who were under the impression that their parents didn’t exercise very much, did not appear themselves to be exercising very much. This resulted in a dramatic decrease in their fitness compared to peers who rated their parents more highly in the physical fitness department.

This means that no matter their age, kids really do pay attention to and mimic their parents. So a big step to getting your kids fit is to be an example yourself. It makes a much bigger difference than you may think. And now we have the research to back it up.

***

Thanks Ben. These really are amazing results!

So how can we help keep our kids (and ourselves) fit? Though schedules in today’s busy lifestyle are much more complicated than when we were kids, here are 5 fun and easy strategies that I’ve successfully implemented with my kids to help keep them moving instead of sitting attached to their electronics:

Tip #1: Play “Notice the Neighborhood”

We have two dogs that absolutely love to go for walks. This summer we started playing a fun game that we call “Notice the Neighborhood” while we walk the dogs. Before we head off for the walk, I print a list of 10 random items I want my kids to find during the walk. For instance, yesterday I asked my boys to find one fruit tree, a house with a birdbath, a Chevrolet vehicle in the driveway, a house with green shutters, and many other items. We had to complete the walk and the list within 45 minutes so this made us walk at a brisk pace. There are two big hills in our neighborhood, so this added a bit of intensity. But because the kids were excitedly trying to find the items on the list—they hardly noticed we were working out. They have enjoyed this so much that they actually request the walks, and the dogs are benefiting, too!

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