Exercise Tips for Parents

Getting your child to exercise may be hard. Try these tips to get your child moving:


Think outside the playing field.

Not all kids like organized school sports like basketball or football. Try other activities they might be interested in– like dancing, karate, running or swimming.  Don’t worry if it takes a while for your child to find something they like to do. Just keep encouraging them to choose an activity that they enjoy.

Remember: It’s important to keep kids motivated and excited about what they are doing so they can create a lasting healthy lifestyle.

Join in the game.

Kids love it when their parents play with them!  Go on a family walk, play a game of catch, or bike to school with them.  You don’t need to have a lot of equipment or games to persuade your child to exercise; just having family participation can be enough!

Limit screen time.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children get no more than one to two hours of screen time each day – whether that is TV, Internet, cell phones or video games.  However, many children spend four or more hours each day in front of a screen. 

Try limiting the amount of time kids and teens spend in front of a screen. Suggest they invite a friend for a bike ride, play a game of basketball or walk the dog first.

Lead by example.

If you watch TV a lot while snacking on the couch, you’re probably not following your own advice.  Watch your own behaviors and try to be a role model by incorporate physical activity into everyday life.  When going to the store, park far away from the doors and walk. Another idea is to take the stairs instead of an elevator when possible. Regularly participate in physical activity you enjoy and let your kids see and hear how much you enjoy it!

Offer positive feedback.

Praise your child for the activities they do.  Out-of-shape, cautious or uncoordinated children need to be encouraged even for reaching small goals, such as walking or biking further than last time. By acknowledging the effort, rather than the outcome, you will help build your child’s confidence.

Bring a friend along.

Kids love to hang out with friends.  Invite a buddy along for a bike ride, have a mini-basketball tournament or offer to bring a friend to the pool.  Younger kids love going to play at the playground with friends.  If your child wants to do a team sport with a friend, then sign them up! Be sure to focus on making fitness fun instead of on competition and winning. 

Use exercise as a reward.

Forcing a child to go outside may make exercise seem like a punishment.  Instead, try using physical activity as a reward.  They might be happy to a quick walk around the block with you if it means taking a break from homework.

Make exercise part of your daily routine.

Exercise should be part of a daily routine the same way that school, work, shopping, chores, and family events are.  You and your child are more likely to stick to an exercise program if it’s incorporated into your schedule on a regular basis.

Try to teach the message that exercise is cool (because it is!).

Some kids respond to the concept of doing something because it’s cool.  If an activity is safe and active and encourages your child to get in shape, allow them to pick what appeals to their sense of style.

Put your child in charge.

Let kids take turns choosing an all day weekend activity or after-school activity family activity.  Your child will feel a sense of control over the situation and will look forward to the days they get to choose!