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Five Strategies to Inspire Children to Get (and Stay) Fit

Do you have a hard time keeping up with your children? Or, do your children have a hard time keeping up with you? With the increase in sedentary entertainment it is becoming more challenging to keep our children active and fit. Consider my top five strategies that will help you motivate your children to get and stay fit through exercise and healthy nutrition:

  1. Set an example for your children.Make sure your children see you exercising. Encourage them to join you as much as possible, whether you’re going to the gym, doing at-home workouts, or going for a walk or jog. Two key lessons I learned from both my dad and my step-dad are that it is important to, 1) make exercise a daily habit and not just occasionally work out, and 2) sacrifice and make exercising a priority on the list of daily “to-do’s.” Sometimes fitting in a workout session means waking up earlier than usual, but it is always well worth it!
  1. Read your children fun books and magazines about fitness. Kids love to be read to! Find some children’s books at a bookstore or online that talk all about “kid fitness,” “yoga” or any kind of sport or activity. As a youth, my step-father would bring home fitness magazines for inspiration, instruction and education that I would find very interesting. To this day I continue to find inspiration from many books and magazines. Fitness reading and education is key, and it will inspire your children for years to come! Amazon has a wide variety of children’s books on subjects like yoga and fitness for children.
  1. Sign your children up for sports and activities that pique their interest.You can also help them explore new ones by playing with them. I have my parents to thank for all the baseball, basketball, soccer and other sports I played throughout my youth that helped me get and stay in shape and challenged me physically, not to mention the great lessons I learned about teamwork, abiding by rules, never giving up, “practice makes perfect,” etc. If traditional sports don’t float their boat, try some other challenging activities such as martial arts, hiking, riding bikes or swimming.
  1. Help your children set fitness and health goals and work to achieve progress.It is a very common practice to measure the height growth of children on a wall or door frame. You can use this same method on your kids and challenge them by testing physical abilities like the vertical jump, standing long jump, push-ups, sit-ups, etc. on a regular basis. Test them on their baseline abilities first and then encourage them to practice and exercise daily so they can get in the habit of setting and achieving their own goals. You might also consider doing it with them to make it more fun and more memorable.
  1. Teach your children how to shop for healthy groceries and prepare healthy meals. There are multiple Boy Scout and Girl Scout requirements that encourage children to learn about nutrition in this way. I remember my mom making this a fairly regular practice with me, and now I have vivid memories of learning to budget and learning how to choose the best and freshest fruits and vegetables, thanks to her. (Though, as a young boy I’d often secretly “sample” the grapes in the fresh produce section, as a “good” Cub Scout should). Remember, healthy kids become healthy adults, so take opportunities, like shopping at the grocery store, to teach your kids about choosing healthy foods.

There are multiple benefits of exercise and nutrition for all ages. There are also countless life lessons to be learned along the way that go hand-in-hand with the basic principles of fitness. When your children catch the vision of making health and fitness a regular focus in their lives, both you and your child will be able to look back and realize that your parental efforts to be an example were not lost on them!

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Written by Jeff Caldwell

Jeff Caldwell is a college certified personal trainer, and trained in Hollywood for more than five years. As the oldest of seven children, he has a natural passion for inspiring today's youth to be happy, healthy and fit. As such, he is also the author and creator of the children's book “Kid Fitness with Phillip and Natalie” which can be found at www.kidfitnessbooks.com

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