How to get kids active and without breaking the bank!
I grew up in a neighborhood full of children around my age. All summer long we would ride our bikes around the neighborhood or to the neighborhood community pool. Pretty much everyone I knew was on a park district swim team. Exercise was a way of life, whether we realized it or not.
The thing that I think we forget about exercising is that it’s not just for overweight or obese kids or adults. Everyone needs exercise to be the healthiest, strongest, and brightest individual they can be! Kids who are obese often suffer from lower self-esteem, are more likely to be bullied at school, and of course have health problems at an early age. It has also been shown that children born to obese parents are more likely to be obese. So I encourage you to get up and get active as a family!
How much exercise do we need?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical exercise a day. This means getting your heart rate up!
There are different types of exercise?!?
There are two main types of exercise- aerobic and anaerobic and both are important. Aerobic is good for strengthening your heart and building endurance. These are activities like running, biking, swimming, basketball, soccer, or dancing. Whereas anaerobic exercises are short bursts of energy- like push-ups, sit-ups, going across the monkey bars, or throwing a ball back and forth. These help build muscle strength.
How do I get started?
Great free options include taking a walk as a family (then add some power-walking to get those heart rates up!). If you have a dog, take the whole family for a walk. If you have any hills near by see how fast you can get to the top and each time try to beat your old time. Or take a trip to the park. Swinging and climbing up all the steps to the slide are good exercise, too.
What if the neighborhood I live in is not safe?
Find fun ways to get active in the house. Invite some of your child’s friends over and have them choreograph a dance to their favorite songs. Each week pick a song to create a dance to and every Friday have a little recital for all the parents right in your own living room.
During commercial breaks make a circuit to complete. Have one station for each commercial until the show returns. For example, one station is sit-ups, the next is jumping jacks, then push-ups.
Join the community!
There are also great organizations in the community encouraging kids to get active. One that I particularly like is called Girls On The Run. It’s an after-school program for elementary and some middle school girls. Practice is right at the school so you don’t have to worry about dropping them off at practice. It’s for girls of all abilities, and everyone has the goal to complete a 5K at the end of the season. I have volunteered as a coach in the past and one of my favorite parts is that there are girls who have experience running and those that have never been a part of group or team, but everyone supports each other. The day starts with a lesson to promote positive body images and discuss important topics like bullying. The goal is to empower young girls to be healthy and confident in them selves. For more information visit Girls on the Run-Orlando, here.
Other activities that have reduced costs depending on your need or are free can be found throughout the community!
Check out these other great resources for more fun ways to get kids active:
The “thigh gap:” A skinny rule reigning social media sites frequented by teenage girls
- Exercise - Advice for Parents,
- Exercise - Children's Health,