How Can We Encourage Children to be More Active? Practical Tips from a Mom in the Trenches

by TheParentSpot
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Are you having trouble getting your kids to exercise? I’ve had this struggle for years, and this mom of 2 has developed a few helpful tips for how to encourage children to exercise.

My 11 year old son loves gaming. And that’s fine. We love tech in our house.

It’s just not OK when he’d rather play a video game than have fun outside in the summer. Unfortunately, it’s a problem a lot of parents have, especially for kids in the pre-teen years. In the past year or two, I’ve made a serious effort to get my gamer active and outdoors, and I’ve found a few helpful tips and tricks that work.

How Can We Encourage Children to be More Active?

Here are some of for how to encourage children to be more active and get more physical activity in their day.

Honestly, it’s not always easy, and I fail as much as I succeed, but I figure that

kid watching electronics
My little gamer

Get the gang together

Playing Ball in the park
A quick game of catch in the park

Use the power of community and friends to get kids outside by joining or arranging fun drop-in games or activities in local parks. This works especially well because my tween is at an age where getting together with friends is a strong motivations. When he sees friends having fun playing baseball or riding a scooter, he’s much more likely to join in.

Make it fun

This one’s been tricky for me, as my kid’s not a natural lover of most sports, but the knack is in finding something he likes to do. He’s had a few big presentations due at school, so I give him a 20 minutes of loud music of his choice and dance time as a break from homework.

He loves turning up his favorite tunes on full blast and dancing around the house like a lunatic. It’s pretty infections, so we unusually end up joining him.

Make being active and outside as easy as possible

If you can, walk your little gamer to or from school, or back from a visit with a friend. That counts as exercise, and it can lead naturally to a stop in the park or a game of outdoor soccer. Exercising as a family is another health hack that can work well for kids, and even simple activities like fruit picking or walking to the store can increase activity.

Model active behavior

Kids watching Beatbugs on Netflix 700

Honestly, this is a hard one for me. But how can I expect my kid to be physically active when I can’t get my bum off the couch in the evenings? I’m working on doing physical things I enjoy like kayaking, gardening, and yoga to set an example. Sure, there are still fun movie nights in our house, but you’re also likely to see me outside or doing yoga in front of the TV.

Limit screen time, especially in the mornings

We find that if we let our son start the day gaming, then he’s much less likely to want to be physically active for the rest of the day. On days that he spends more time gaming, he really seems only to want to get back on his machine, rather than do anything outdoors.

For our kid, this is what’s working best for us. On school days, we try to limit gaming to after school when his homework and short list of chores are done, and for a maximum of an hour and a half. On weekends, we try to allow gaming only after 4:00 pm (although, honestly, there are plenty of days we break down around 2:00 pm) for a maximum of three hours.

Use a reward or incentive

Roasting marshmallows outside

My son loves marshmallows, so we’ve been known to use a marshmallow roast as a perk for going hiking. When he knows that a hike will be followed by a fire and roasted marshmallows, and maybe even s’mores, he’s much more likely to want to get outside and active.

Plan ahead for bad weather

We’ve had a rainy, cool spring and early summer here in the interior of British Columbia, making it harder than usual to get outside. So, I’ve planned days at our local indoor trampoline center and water park for when the cool weather hits.

Support your kids in sports and activities they like

This one is huge, because kids will naturally gravitate to activities they enjoy. When they’re supported by their parents, they can develop lifelong habits for staying active.

Kids soccer penalty kick

Immerse your kid in a culture that makes activity fun and positive

It really takes a village to raise happy, engaged kids, and this also holds true in terms of physical literacy and fitness. We try to take advantage of any community, government and corporate initiatives to get kids outside and healthy.

Do you have any tips for encouraging a child to exercise? Let us know!

Tips to Get Your Gamers Active and Outdoors | Exercise tips for kids | Tips for getting your inactive kid to exercise

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Paula Atwell June 23, 2017 - 1:47 pm

Great tips. It is so easy to allow you kids to get absorbed into screen time.

Heather Lawrence June 23, 2017 - 3:23 pm

We have set limits on how long our kids use any kind of technology whether that be video games or tv shows. Once they are done, they are done… then they go to the playground or ride their bikes. A little bit of freedom and then if they need a little extra help we can give them some ideas.
These are great tips!

Ashley June 23, 2017 - 5:32 pm

Thanks for the tips! Sometimes my son gets a little much into his kindle. Luckily he loves the park too!

Star Traci June 23, 2017 - 5:54 pm

This is indeed a problem in our house Fighting my son to get off screens and outside is a daily push. Thanks for the tips. I need them!

Carrie Chance June 23, 2017 - 7:12 pm

I’ve also noticed with my 7 year old that she is harder to get away from screens if she starts watching/playing in the morning.

Ali Gilbert June 23, 2017 - 7:23 pm

These are really great tips! My toddlers are obsessed with their ipads and it’s so hot in Florida right now that I give in and let them play way too much. I needed to read this. Thanks so much.

Kristin June 23, 2017 - 7:37 pm

These are really great tips. I try to encourage the kids to go outside as much as possible!

Jasmine June 23, 2017 - 7:51 pm

Definitley a helpful post! I have four gamers and its not easy getting them outdoors as much as they should be.

Louise June 24, 2017 - 12:44 am

I’m quite lucky, as both my two would rather be outside than stuck indoors playing on their devices. These are all great tips to get kids outdoors and having fun though 🙂

Louise x

Alicia June 26, 2017 - 8:47 am

These are great tips. Our school age kids are involved in weekly summer park program right down the street from us, with friends and adults facilitate it. They love it. They try to over take my TV because i have netflix on ours. I told them they are not watching tv all day.


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