Are your kids getting enough exercise?

It’s getting cold and outdoor activities like football and soccer have ended so our kids are spending more time inside and getting less exercise. If you’re kids like mine and like playing video games and sleeping in until dinnertime, getting them to exercise for an hour a day can seem like a daunting task.

But, getting in the recommended 60 minutes is not just a good idea; it’s imperative for healthy, well-adjusted kids:
• Build and maintain fit bones, muscles and joints
• Enhance mental capacity and improve school performance
• Help with self-esteem and confidence
• Prevent diseases like Diabetes, Obesity, & Heart Disease
• Develop motor skills & coordination
• Improve emotional state and combat anxiety/depression

Getting your kids off the couch and onto their feet comes down to 2 things: make it fun & make it relational. Kids will do almost anything if you turn it into a game, including exercise. And, kids are much more likely to break a sweat if they have some company. Whether that means you round up the kids and head to the bike pparenting_fitness_s4_family_on_bikes[1]ath for a group bike ride, or head to the sports complex for a family soccer match, or challenge your kid to a race around the sports complex track. When it’s fun and relational, those 60 minutes of exercise suddenly don’t seem so impossible.

Mix It Up
To make sure that your kids have a balanced, active lifestyle, make sure to mix it up when it comes to exercise. Those 60 minutes should include moderate aerobics, vigorous aerobics, muscle strengthening & bone strengthening. If your child is strong but doesn’t have great stamina, or fast but lacking in muscle, he or she might be missing out on one of these core areas of exercise.

Moderate Aerobics
These are the kinds of exercises that are hidden within games and regular activities, like walking the dog, playing Frisbee, playing basketball with their friends at the Vandalia Recreation Center, or going for a swim at the VRC pool.

How You Know It’s Working: You can hold a conversation, but are too out of breath to sing a song.
How to Add in the Fun:
• Family jump rope competition (winner gets a Popsicle!)
• Rollerblade race around the Sports Complex Path
• Round up a few of their friends and make teams for Frisbee golf, basketball, or softball (friendly competition is a great way to encourage physical activity!)
• Have your kid teach you a sport/activity like skateboarding or how to do flips on the trampoline

Vigorous Aerobics
Vigorous exercises are the kind where you know you are burning some calories. Your heart rate is boosted, your sweat glands are working overtime, and there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to be sore the next day. The CDC recommends that your child does vigorous aerobics at least 3 days a week.
How You Know It’s Working: You are able to pant out a few words, but that’s about it before needing to stop and catch your breath.
How to Add in the Fun:
• Make a playlist with your child and blast it, dancing fast-paced and non-stop throughout the house until the music stops.
• Go for a hike at Englewood Reserve, Taylorsville Reserve, on the bike path, or Charleston Woods. Pack a bag full of bottled water to make the trek more difficult (and to stay hydrated, of course).
• Take an aerobics, Aikido, or Family Tae Kwon Do class with your kid at Vandalia Recreation Center
• Go to the track at Butler and have a family race day (winner gets to pick where you go to eat afterward!).
• Teach your child a sport/activity like soccer or tennis (ideally, one that involves a lot of constant movement).

Muscle Strengthening
Strengthening muscles in kids isn’t just a matter of getting them to lift weights or try to bench press the bar. Children build up their muscle mass by lifting their own body weight (i.e., pushups) or working against a resistance (i.e., tug-of-war).
How You Know It’s Working: The area you are working will feel fatigued and slightly weakened (this is because muscle must breakdown in order to be repaired by cells in the body, these “satellite cells” then increase in size and thickness to build muscle).

How to Add in the Fun:
• Go to a local school playground with a jungle gym and pretend the ground is lava and your child must swing on the monkey bars and other equipment (thus, working against his or her own weight).
• Challenge your child to a sit-up or push-up competition (every set of 10 wins them a dollar toward a small toy/reward).
• Sign your child up for a team or class (even offer to do it together).
• Go rock climbing gym at VRC wall with them
Bone Strengthening
This is one area of exercise often overlooked. Healthy bones come from drinking lots of milk, right? Yes, but it also comes from activities that produce impact and tension force on bones for growth and strength. Building up bone strength is critical for kids because it will greatly impact their skeletal health as they get older.
How You Know It’s Working: this one is not so easy to tell, but one quick & simple indicator is if you are on your feet. If you are up and moving around, putting weight on your body just by being vertical, then you are, to some degree, building bone strength.
How to Add in the Fun:
• In the summer go to Caesars Creek beach or Buck Creek beach for a picnic, go out on a nice day and challenge your child to a race on the sand. Best part: you can cool off by taking a swim!
• Teach your child how to ice skate at the ponds on Martindale Road, or see how many goals he or she can make against you in a game of ice hockey.
• In the winter, go skiing or snowboarding with the whole family at Mad River Mountain in Springfield. In the summer, go water-skiing or wakeboarding.
Take a martial arts class with your child or sign up for family yoga at the Vandalia Rec center

There are lots of ways to incorporate exercise into family activities and besides getting in some good exercise you can have some fun too.
MPower blog by Lydia Baker