You have probably heard some of the benefits of physical activity – improved school performance, better quality of sleep, reduced risk of disease, and increased body awareness and coordination are just a few.  But how much should kids move their bodies to experience these benefits? The physical activity recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are: 

But how do you encourage your kids to be active daily since they may not be as excited about improved sleep quality as you, for example? It’s easier said than done, but luckily, adding quick and fun physical activity to your kids’ day is simpler than you think. Plus, taking the time to incorporate physical activity into family activities regularly can help your child form healthy habits for life.

First, it's important to recognize that children watch you as a role model and learn how to be active based on what they see. Incorporating physical activity in fun and easy ways will encourage them to do it. When exercise feels like play, the whole family is more likely to enjoy it and stick with it. Here are 5 of our favorite ideas for family fitness that can keep you all moving.

Make time to play. Set aside 30 minutes each day for fun physical activity with your kids or try to plan at least one family activity every weekend. It can be simple, like taking the little ones to the playground or going on a hike with your teenager. By planning time for regular physical activities, you make it a part of your child’s daily routine so they can plan for this time in their day. To satisfy children of various ages, try to offer a variety of family activities. Exploring different ways to move will help children find movements they enjoy and want to stick with in the long run.

Walk or bike whenever you can. Use muscle power: bike, scooter, rollerblade, or walk when the opportunity allows. Go for a family walk after dinner instead of heading right for a screen. Track everyone’s mileage or steps with an activity tracker and make it competitive by seeing who completes their daily goal first or who gets the most steps in a day. Use a family exercise log or colorful stickers as a reminder of progress while cheering each other on.

Take activity breaks when doing tasks. Encourage your kids to take a break and stretch or walk a lap around the house while they do their homework. Even standing instead of sitting will help keep the blood flowing and boost their energy. Better yet, organize a regular break time with your kids and do yoga together as a family.

Sing and dance while you clean. Set aside time to do household chores as a family. Play music as you clean and take turns choosing favorite songs. Younger children can pick up toys or sweep floors while dancing with the broom. Older kids can dust, vacuum, and help make beds.

Make yard work less of a chore and more about family exercise. Enjoy seasonal yard work together. Rake leaves, plant a garden, make a snow fort, or see who can shovel the fastest. No matter the weather, you can make yard work a fun family activity!

While these are a few simple and easy ideas on how to stay active as a family, there are countless other ways that your children can move their bodies. Whatever physical activity your children enjoy, remember to support and encourage them. The most important thing is that they are having fun and staying safe while being active in a way that feels good to them. 

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