4 Little Ways To Encourage Your Kids To Exercise

happy kid exercising with family

Some children are naturally excitable, energetic, and always moving their bodies. Other children prefer calming or stationary activities, or are more partial to arts, music, reading, etc. While neither personality is wrong, if your child isn’t prone to exercising it can be a challenge to find ways to make movement a regular part of his or her routine. But, regardless of what your child likes or dislikes, there are ways to encourage your kids to exercise—by making it fun, involving yourself, and getting their buy-in for the activity or sport.

Here are a few simple tips:

Get Them Into Sports

You can encourage your kids to exercise by finding a team sport that they enjoy.

The type of sport doesn’t matter as much as the engagement with it—the main thing is that they are engaged and moving around! That being said, some sports are more physically engaging than others. For example, some sports are high-intensity (like water polo, soccer, or hockey). Others parallel with sports on television, like, and if your child likes keeping up with sports news, it could be fun to draw parallels between their sports team and what’s going on in professional sports!

The biggest thing to keep in mind is you have to find a sport that feels fun; otherwise, your child might not connect and participating may feel like more of a chore than a benefit (for you and them!).

Be A Role Model

In all things, you should aim to be a role model for your kids. This is certainly true when it comes to exercise, too! If you’re exercising and showing an example of regular habits/routines, you will find that you’re naturally encouraging your children to do that, too.

Of course, this will also mean that you are much healthier yourself, which in turn inspires you to want to do more for your children’s health and physical wellness. So, being a role model is really important (for everyone!).

Be Active Together

It is often helpful to think of exercise simply as being active, rather than specifically exercising.

If you simply spend time being active with one another, that is going to mean that you are much more likely to see your kids trying to do that themselves, and doing it much more organically, too. Being active together can happen quite easily—in fact, it can be as simple as running around the playground together, playing a pickup game of dodgeball, or chasing your dogs around the park! Worry less about ‘organized’ or ‘structured’ exercise and be mindful of ways you can all simply move together.

Use (Healthy!) Rewards

If you find you’re struggling to encourage your kids to exercise, don’t fret! Sometimes your children will need a buy-in for why exercise (especially challenging exercise!) is something they should engage in.

Don’t shy away from a rewards system, but strive to create a more intrinsic one.

An intrinsic rewards system really looks at the internal pleasure—and largely the feelings—behind why we do something. Rather than, for example, stickers for each activity, help your child recognize the benefits (better sleep, healthier body, stronger muscles, etc.) This way, they’ll be more focused on what they are doing to actively create these changes rather than looking at the tangible reward they’re getting from ‘checking the box.’

Featured Image Credit: Yan Krukov
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Marisa Donnelly, M.Ed., is a writer/editor, credentialed teacher, proud bonus mama, and CEO of Be A Light Collective, a coaching and content creation business and digital marketplace. She is the Director of Donnelly’s Daily Apple, a flexible learning/tutoring and educational resource platform, and the lead voice for Momish Moments and Step by Step Parents, verticals dedicated to sharing and advocating for non-traditional parenting journeys. Marisa currently resides in San Diego, California, with her fiancé, kiddo, and their two rambunctious Pitbulls. ❤️