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10 ways to keep your kids moving

» 1. Find your child’s sport.

» 2. Target a passion.

» 3. Join the backyard fun.

» 4. Rely on foot power.

» 5. Plan family outings that involve physical activity.

» 6. Stock your car.

» 7. Set up a home obstacle course.

» 8. Hop like a bunny.

» 9. Play Ultimate Hopscotch.

» 10. Make physical chores fun.

Rainy-day activities

Don’t let a cloudy day be an excuse for kids to become couch potatoes:

  • Go to the roller rink, bowling alley, batting cages or rock-climbing wall.
  • Boogie to music.
  • Try exercise videos.
  • Hold a Ping-Pong tournament.
  • Blow up a balloon and keep it aloft; now try two or more.
  • Allow limited TV, with the provision that your kids jump rope, march in place, hop on one foot or do jumping jacks or sit-ups during each commercial.
  • Pull on boots and rain gear and take a splashy stroll.

The gift that keeps on giving

For your child’s next birthday, nix video games and wrap up a gift to keep him or her moving, such as:

  • anything with wheels: in-line skates, a scooter, a skateboard, a bike or, for the truly adventurous, a unicycle (don’t forget a helmet)
  • a pogo stick
  • a pitch-back net for baseball, soccer or hockey
  • a tetherball and pole
  • a Frisbee or a kite
  • a jump rope
  • a badminton set

Fit kids are healthy kids, but many are simply not getting the exercise they need. Children should get at least 60 minutes of moderate exercise every day. The sedentary nature of modern playtime, however, with TV, video games and the computer, offers little physical activity, and dwindling gym classes are not providing enough exercise. One study of third-graders found their physical education classes yielded just 25 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week.

Because physical activity typically declines during the teen years, childhood is a pivotal time for ingraining the fitness habit. So turn off the TV, leave the car keys home and get moving.

1. Find your child’s sport.

When it comes to organized sports and activities, kids have a huge number of choices, but finding the one that’s right for your child is essential. Not all kids enjoy team sports or competitions; other options can help them stay fit. Your child may want to try cycling, martial arts, dance lessons, cheerleading, tennis, figure skating, horseback riding or hiking. Stick with just one organized sport each season and let your child try new activities from year to year.

2. Target a passion.

Find things that your child likes to do and incorporate exercise with it. If your child is artistic, for instance, take a nature hike to collect flowers, leaves and rocks for a collage. An avid reader will enjoy a stroll to the library, and a climber will love a trip to a neighborhood jungle gym or climbing wall.

3. Join the backyard fun.

Nothing makes a lawn game more vigorous than Mom or Dad joining in. Play basketball or touch football or teach your child games from your playground days. On hot days, turn on the lawn sprinklers and play tag through them; soak large sponges or Nerf balls in water for a wet dodge-ball game; or start a war with garden hoses and water balloons.

4. Rely on foot power.

See how many errands you and your child can accomplish on foot, scooter, in-line skates or bike. Return library books, drop off dry cleaning or buy stamps. Kids usually hate tagging along for errands, but they’ll get a kick out of going through the bank’s drive-thru on skates.

5. Plan family outings that involve physical activity.

Take a trip to the zoo; enter a 5K fun walk-run; or go hiking, biking, snorkeling, skiing or camping.

6. Stock your car.

Keep a small duffel of toys—a playground ball, jump rope, Frisbee or football—in the car and step outside for spontaneous pick-up games anytime you’re stuck waiting around the auto repair center or Laundromat. Find a brick wall and a tennis ball and play handball while you wait for another child’s scout meeting or class to let out.

7. Set up a home obstacle course.

Let your child design an intricate obstacle course in the backyard and time each family member as he or she races to complete it. Make the course weave in and out of trees and set a high mark to jump and touch. Incorporate the swing set, slide, monkey bars, basketball hoop and anything in the garage such as ride-on toys or boxes to hop over or crawl through.

8. Hop like a bunny.

Ask your toddler or preschooler to think of his or her favorite animals and then hop like a bunny, soar like an eagle or walk like a crab.

9. Play Ultimate Hopscotch.

Use sidewalk chalk to create an elaborate hopscotch trail. Cover the entire driveway or let it snake around the house or block.

10. Make physical chores fun.

Who can pull the most weeds from the garden, pick up the most trash or rake the biggest pile of leaves? Charge your child with washing the car and walking the dog.

© 2014 Dowden Health Media