Our three kids played sports from preschool through college and today they embrace a lifestyle of fitness–crossfit, running, coaching–that has totally blossomed out of their personal enjoyment of fitness.
But even if your kids don’t play sports, you can still teach them that fitness is fun, as well as rewarding.
Carve out the Time
If you have to put in on the calendar, then do it! Be intentional about planning a fitness activity together. Here’s what one family did:
Our family designated a time each week for enjoying a fitness activity together. The first week, we found some used archery equipment, took the kids to a field and practiced target shooting. They loved it! We bought guidebooks about local hiking and biking spots and let the kids take turns picking a destination. A beach walk one week was followed by a bike ride down a famous trail the next. Pickup football and volleyball games have been included, along with hopscotch tournaments, Hula Hoop contests and wall ball championships.
Family fitness time brought this family together and taught their kids to love staying active.
Look Around Your Community
Family fitness can be as close as the nearest local high school track. Here’s how another family used the one near them:
When the track in our town isn’t in use by the school, it’s open to the public. Often, my family has the track to ourselves. In the wide-open spaces, we are free to run, race and ride as much and as far as our legs will take us. My oldest boys, ages 8 and 11, love playing football in the field and racing around the track on scooters. I enjoy going for a jog while my 4-year-old rides beside me on his bike.
Walk or Bicycle Everywhere You Can
Yes, it takes more time, but look for opportunities to bike or walk to the grocery store, library, or to your child’s school or sports events. Go for a 30-minute family walk after dinner instead of sitting down in front of the TV.
Make Yard Work Fun, well sort of!
Enjoy seasonal yard work together. Your kids can help plant and tend a garden. Let them kids can rake leaves into a pile and then jump in it. Make snow shoveling fun by building a snow fort or creating a family of snow people.
Contrary to what today’s fitness crazed world, exercise does not just equal competition. Your kids can learn the fun of fitness when you think outside the box of youth sports!
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has recently launched a podcasting series for sports parents.You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.