Exercise is essential to good health at every age. But fitting it into a gradeschooler’s routine can be challenging when your child is too young to venture out alone for his own activities and too old to want to follow along with mom’s fitness footsteps.
Additionally, moms like Circle of Moms members Desiree P., aren't sure how to make exercise fun. She asks the RoundUp community: "How can you make working out less of a chore and more of a desire?"
To help, Circle of Moms members offer the following five tips on instilling healthy habits in your children early on and making exercise fun.
1. Develop a Routine
One of the best ways to make exercise fun for a gradeschooler, Circle of Moms members say, is to make it part of their daily activity instead of an occasional chore. "A good habit of physical activity will last a lifetime," says Patsy C., noting, "it’s never too early to start."
A mom named Jannah M. incorporates walks into her son’s daily activity. Meanwhile, Desiree P. suggests non-traditional exercises like going on a hike, riding in-line skates or playing tag with your children. If you do something active at least three to five days per week, then exercise will become a way of life, like going to work, feeding the kids, and cleaning the house, she says. "Life will become a fun, active experience."
2. Head Outdoors
One of the easiest ways to have fun getting exercise and increase activity is to just head outdoors, say several Circle of Moms members. "It won’t take long for him to start playing [once he's outside], especially if there are other kids," Jennifer explains.
Victoria D. agrees, saying none of her children (ages five and seven) get bored outdoors because “there are plants to look at, trees to climb, animals to spot." She adds that the activity can go on for miles.
"There are lots of different [outdoor] activities which are good for your body, like riding a bike, just going for a walk, playing at the pool with friends, [or] taking a dog out," Jakki T. adds. Other active alternatives include horse riding, indoor rock climbing, canoeing, gardening or just hiking in the nearby forest or wilderness area.
Several moms, including Teri V., Anne R. and Melisa I., all suggest bike riding. Even a six-year-old can ride a bike or scooter, Melisa insists. Her own children, ages six, eight and nine, depend on their bikes as a form of transportation and entertainment. "When we first started, we had to frequently stop and rest and remind them of the road rules," she remembers. "We still do it, as it's not only a form of exercise, but we also use it as an excuse not to use the car. They enjoy their rides."
Even something as simple as a neighborhood walk can be made more enticing if you make a sport of it, Patsy says. For example, she’s played eye-spy while on a post-dinner walk with her children, or she’s run up and down a neighbor’s stairs. Ange simply makes a game out of running to the next pole or tree while on a walk with her daughter. "My seven-year-old never gets bored," she says.
3. Play Indoor Games
When weather prohibits outdoor activities, there are still a lot of activities to do indoors, Circle of Moms members point out. Many moms cite games that can be played on Wii Fit that are fun and get your child’s heart rate up.
Other moms, like Maria O. and Patsy, say they enjoy just cranking up the music and boogying down.
Patsy says her friend Betsy M. even extends exercise invitations to other families, asking neighbors to attend disco nights. She moves the furniture aside, fills the CD player with dance tunes, and lets the kids take turns using a flashlight as a strobe light. "They dance for three hours straight," Patsy says of Betsy’s four children. "The older ones know all the words to the songs and really dance; it’s hilarious to see the younger ones try to mimic them. Their favorite song is 'Brick House!'"
Other moms agree with her dancing strategy: "Any time of the day when [my child] has too much energy and is bouncing off the walls, I go to YouTube and look up stuff like Shakira and Beyonce videos for her and have a little dance party," Toni V. tells others. "I always give her a big hug and thank her for dancing with me afterward for an added boost."
4. Enroll in Team Sports or Exercise Classes
For those who don’t seem comfortable with freestyle activities like dancing, several Circle of Moms members suggest enrolling your child in an organized activity, such as baseball or soccer, where they will get exercise and can socialize.
LeAnn B. joined the YMCA because they have sports for kids ages three to eight. "Each season, they offer a variety of sports, so we're working through the rotation," she relays. "Our three-year-old has already played T-ball and soccer; our 11-year-old has played flag football and basketball. Volleyball practice starts next week! Next season, they'll both be playing soccer."
Other moms, including Gene and Erin B., look to their churches and neighborhood colleges for local support groups that offer group physical exercise, while Alisa S. suggests moms contact libraries and 4H’s in their area to find out what physical activities are offered. Jen J. even found an hour-long zumbatomic exercise program designed for kids age four thru 12.
Even when you have a child who's adverse to exercise, you can let him choose an activity that he's agreeable to. April S., for example, makes her son choose one to three summer activities that he must try at least once. Her son, who is more into Lego, Star Wars, video games and reading, found he likes tennis and swimming, after trying those sports.
5. Involve the Entire Family
No matter the activity you choose to help incorporate exercise into your child's routine, Circle of Moms suggest the best way to make it fun is to join in on the fun. "The best way to keep them active is be active with them," Dawn W. emphasizes, noting that children learn by example.
Christy B. agrees: "Even though games and sports may not be your thing, if you want your kid to play those things outside you need to do it with him. Children learn by imitation. You might find that while not really your thing you'll have fun because your child is having fun," she says. "You won't be sorry if you make an effort to do things with your child, because it's great quality time [and] you're also teaching your child healthy living."
Julie B. adds: "What child can turn down time alone with Mom?"
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.