Family Health: How You Can Raise Active Kids

active_kids_biking-impNew parents are often exhausted from ‘chasing their kids’ around, but somewhere between toddlerhood and the teen years, kids slow WAY down.

While it is true that there are endless options for kids to spend their down-time in front of TV screens and gaming consoles, I don’t think we can blame this generation of inactive kids on technology alone.

As kids get older they still need adult role models to keep them moving, make good decisions and have a positive influence in their lives. This means some of the responsibility falls on us to take action and raise healthy and active kids.

How can we keep kids motivated and ensure they are getting enough activity every day?

How You Can Raise Active Kids

I often hear, “You are so lucky your kids are so active,” as if my kids just naturally wake up running a 5km and magically appear at dance classes, on ski hills and at the top of climbing ropes. There is a very good reason my kids are active.

We made them that way.

active_kids_climbing-impWe sign them up, we drive them, we practice with them, we bike, run, swim, climb, and we get their butts off the couch and away from the screens. I started when they were very young, the kids and I were always on the move.

My kids now are totally normal 9, 11 and 13 year old kids. They wake up and head straight to the couch, iPod in one hand and TV remote in the other. I honestly think they would do this all day on the weekends if we let them. So we don’t let them.

Sometimes they resist, but I insist.

I suggest going for a hike and instantly get the moans, groans and complaints from everyone (except the dog!).

Every. Single. Time. But I insist. And they always end up loving our outing.

Everyday I make sure there is some kind of activity in it. If they are not in a dance class or meeting friends to play or hanging out in a pool, then we are geocaching, hiking, going for a long bike ride or going to the tennis courts at the park. I even walk them to school. I don’t have to, they are more than old enough to go on their own, but the exercise is good for me too . . . and the dog!

For those days when the family isn’t doing something together, we keep a bin stocked in the garage with tons of toys that inspire creative and active play.

How Can You Raise Active Kids?

Gather Ideas – Make a list as a family of ideas for active things you would like to do together, and when the weekend arrives, pick out an activity from the Activity Jar and enjoy. Our favourites are biking, roller blading, swimming, rock climbing, hiking or geocaching.

Do it Together – Getting outdoors and active is good for everyone, not just the kids. Kids will model an active lifestyle if they see you living an active lifestyle. Make being active or outdoors just part of who your family is. Sign up for a couch to 5K together, go canoeing, learn to belay so you can take the kids to indoor rock climbing, look for adventure and inspire the kids to come up with active ideas you can all do.

active_kids_golfing-impStart New Traditions – Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Thanksgiving, Birthdays and even Christmas are times for family togetherness and activity.  For example: a long bike ride to the ice cream shop on Mothers Day, 9 holes of golf with the kids on Fathers Day, ice skating at Christmas time and a fall family hike on Thanksgiving.

Getting the kids to be more active doesn’t mean signing them up to a dozen after school activities but it does mean encouraging them to join school activities, to make family time about being active together, and modelling an active lifestyle as an adult that will have a positive influence on the kids.

How does your family stay active?

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