In a previous blog I detailed Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps’ efforts to motivate kids to get moving. As part of his new mission to get kids interested in physical activity the swimming super star is making trips to community pools around the nation to highlight the value of fitness.
Of course, the 23-year-old swimming phenom won’t be visiting every public pool in the United States so if you want to get your children off the couch and outside to burn off calories then you’re going to have to do some of the work yourself. This might be especially challenging for parents who are unmotivated to move themselves. Adults know that losing weight isn’t easy, but it isn’t any easier for kids, especially since most youngsters don’t fully understand all of the negative consequences associated with being overweight.
The following tips provide ways you can encourage healthy weight for your entire family:
Be a good role model. Kids learn more by what they see, than what they hear so when you eat healthy meals (ones that include protein, whole grains, fruit, vegetables and dairy foods) and maintain an exercise routine your kids will likely follow suit.
Eat as a family. Plan at least one family meal a day. You don’t have to count calories or carbs or fat grams. Instead, eat sensibly and use the opportunity to speak with your kids about the importance of nutrition and exercise.
Exercise as a family. Plan activities that get everyone moving. Go for a family bike ride, hike as a unit or play a game of football or basketball together.
Teach kids to cook. Most kids enter the kitchen and head right for the refrigerator to get a snack. If you invite your children into the kitchen and teach them how to cook you will find that they are more willing to try new, healthy foods.
Introduce your kids to new sports. Your kids used to shoot hoops everyday, but now they rather sit on the couch and watch TV. It might be time for a boredom buster. Visit a second hand sporting goods store together and pick up a baseball, bat, and glove or invest in a pair of used rollerblades. The point is to find something your child is interested in so he will be motivated to move.
Make exercise fun. Every workout doesn’t have to include a 4-mile run, a free weight session and 100 crunches. Mix it up a bit and make burning calories fun. Go to a local swimming pool and race against your kids in the water or build an obstacle course in your own backyard.