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You know that working out keeps you physically and mentally healthy — but how much exercise are your kids getting, and are you setting a positive example?
Children should generally be physically active for a minimum of an hour a day. They'll get in more naturally if they are not too engaged in sedentary activities, but even children who run around (seemingly) most of the day benefit from spending some of their active time with their parents. That's right — you need to get involved for the best results.
That doesn't mean you need to do exercise right along with them, although that would be fantastic, but your young-ish kids will love it if you set activities up and cheer them on. Among the benefits of regular family-led exercise activities are:
Increased parent/child bonding
Less excess energy
Maintain healthy muscles, joints and bones and a healthy weight
Instill a life-long love of healthy activities, and steer your kids away from sedentary activities like watching TV and playing computer games
Every parent knows that regular physical activity is important, but it's tempting to rely on the school to provide it — or just to send your kids to the playground.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Create Your Very Own Obstacle Course
Most preschoolers and young elementary-aged children will love obstacle courses, and you can easily create your very own at home and expand it into the yard if you have one. Once you have an obstacle course set up, you can give your kid(s) oral or written instructions on how to complete it.
Children can climb over lazy chairs, crawl under tables, hop from one room to the next on one leg, or do five jumping jacks in a designated spot before they can move on. You can also place a straight line of construction tape to the floor and make them walk on the line.
In the yard, your children could be tasked with completing 10 or 20 jumps on a trampoline, going down the slide five times, or using a bouncy ball to go from one end to the other. The possibilities are almost endless, and you can create a new obstacle every time you play this “game”.
My kids — aged four and seven — are into pirates at the moment. You can use similar interests to make an obstacle course even more appealing. I might write down instructions showing how to find a “treasure” for instance. After a good half an hour of physical activity, they'll find a nice healthy snack at the end.