Fitness Routines for Reluctant Kids

6 ways to get kids moving when they think they don't want to

Fitness routines for kids - boys playing soccer
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Fitness routines for kids don't necessarily have a reputation for fun. And with less time and space for safe outdoor activities, and more electronics competing for kids' attention, it's easy for physical activity to fall by the wayside. But in our sedentary culture, encouraging kids' fitness is more important than ever. Try this advice to help even the most reluctant kids increase their active play time.

1. Set the Mood for Fun Kids' Fitness

Fitness is part of a healthy lifestyle that makes you feel good. Try not to send the message that exercise is an unpleasant chore. These 10 tips for fun fitness will help you set a positive tone and make any kind of exercise more fun. If your child says he "doesn't like sports," pinpoint the reason why so you can help him move past it.

2. Be a Fitness Role Model

The number-one way to prompt your reluctant child to be more active is to be more active yourself. Take up a new sport, resume a walking or running habit, or resurrect that gym membership you've been ignoring. If you don't have a gym, consider looking for one that the whole family can use. And yes: Finding time to work out is a challenge, but it benefits both you and your kids if you can do it. Let kids see you making it work, and enjoying it too.

3. Set Fitness Goals that Motivate

Many kids are motivated by rewards.

Work together to come up with a set of goals for each member of the family, then plan some fun (non-food!) prizes, such as active toys you can all enjoy. Put it all together and call it a family fitness challenge. Or make plans to participate in a fitness event together (like running a 5K). If your kids want to work toward individual rewards (virtual and/or real-life), they might like to use a fitness tracker that incorporates prizes.

4. Boost Kids' Self-Esteem

If your child is overweight, fitness is more important than ever. But it can also be tougher to encourage. Seek out ways to help your child feel more confident about his or her body. This could be through finding the right clothing, planning private or at-home exercise if that's more comfortable, and looking for small fitness victories to celebrate. 

5. Find Activities Kids Love

Maybe your child doesn't enjoy active play because she hasn't yet found the right sport or exercise for her. Allow her to check out lots of youth sports, including some more unusual picks, until you hit on the right ones. As a family, there are lots of ways you can share active play together; these ideas help you zero in on which ones are best for you right now. Also try:

6. Fight the Excuses

Kids are good at coming up with reasons why they can't play actively. But there's plenty they can do indoors. Try these 12 rainy day activities, or these ways to bring outdoor fun inside. They can also play outside even in inclement weather as long as they have the right clothing or gear (and there's no lightning or dangerously low or high temperatures).

If kids claim they are too busy with schoolwork for active play or fitness, try these quick brain breaks. They take just a few minutes, but can help improve academic performance. You might also consider walking to and from school or even having your child use a standing desk. All of these strategies are ways to add small amounts of fitness to a kid's day. And those small amounts add up.

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