In the modern sedentary world of screens, it’s an uphill battle keeping kids active. As a parent of more than a few kids, it’s a battle I’ve struggled with just like everyone else.
Here are some tips that have worked for me:
1. Do it With Them
Ultimately kids want to relate to and mimic their parents. As hard as it might be to find the time… find the time. It may be the most important gift you can give to your child. Not only is it time spent together. It’s time spent together creating positive habits that will carry into the future.
For kids, fitness should feel like time spent together.
2. Keep it Age Appropriate
My teenage son is deadlifting about 300lbs. My 5 year old son is deadlifting 0 lbs and it’ll stay that way till he’s 12 or 13.
On the other hand, my 5 year old son has fun doing sprint or obstacle races with me. Or wrestling around. Sometimes he’ll pick up an 18lb kettlebell as if he’s deadlifting but that’s just to mimic dad. No reps.
My 9 year old is into climbing and swinging from ropes. And he’s starting to get interested in getting better at pullups because he sees me and his older brothers doing them.
3. Keep it Fun
As they get older you can turn it into more of a regimented fitness thing but when they are young, you’re just spending time with your child having fun. And that’s good for both of you on its own.
Invent games. Play around.
4. Go on Hikes
Being outdoors and in nature is good for spirit and body. There is something invigorating about a good hike. Get at least one hike in every month. As the kids get older, set some challenges for hike length and try to break records.
5. Set Challenges & Break Records
Kids like to be challenged. They like to compete against themselves and against each other. Use that to your advantage.
I find that nothing motivates quite like a stop watch. My kids love breaking their old sprinting records.
As kids get older and start doing barbell work, safely targeting PRs is another way to stay motivated.
6. Stay Consistent
Fitness is about consistency. So whatever you introduce, turn it into a routine that your kids look forward to. If you keep it fun, challenging and make it about having good quality time together, the consistency will come naturally.
At the end of the day, your kids will follow your lead. Commit to just one day a week being about doing some fun physical activity together. Whether it’s a hike or actual working out, or even a community sport. Consistency is key.