Channel Their Energy! How You AND Your Kid Can Stay Fit This Summer
Children have no shortage of energy, so what better time to teach them the importance of physical activity than when it's still second nature to want to jump, run, scamper, scoot and twirl at every moment? (And what better way to ensure they'll take a nap later on!?) In the process, you'll create more ways that you can add in calorie-burning exercise into every day, as well as lay groundwork for a lifetime of good habits. All without going to a gym or lifting a single barbell.
Here are 8 small but significant ways you can add in activity every day, together!
1. Take—and count up!—the steps. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we've all heard the ole "take the stairs" refrain, but turn it into a mathematical lesson as well as a thigh-firming one as you tally up how many steps and stairs it takes to get from place to place. For older kids, challenge them to take the stairs two at a time.
2. Play "speed clean." When it's time to put the toys away, grab your stopwatch and tell your little one you want to see how fast (but still properly!) she can get all the toys back into the proper bins.
3. Make any bicycle into a bicycle built for two. Pick up two helmets and one child-seat, and you can turn even a a quick trip to the neighbor's house or to the local playground into a burst of activity. Your child will learn about bike safety as well come to see that the car is NOT the only option for getting from point A to point B. In families where being active is no big thing, it becomes second nature.
4. Kick it up a notch. Whatever you're doing together--whether it's playing in the sprinkler or shooting hoops or watering plants in the garden, add in some moments of movement. Lunges between baskets, jumping jacks in the sprinkler, or skipping to the mailbox. This kind of goofy stuff usually is second nature to kids, and while it may feel a bit odd at first to you, these short bursts of activity do add up!
5. Music, music, music. Sometimes, all it takes to get motivated is the right beat. Put a radio in the backyard or an iPod dock wherever you spend the most time and declare every afternoon at a certain time "dance party time." Ten minutes of dancing -- that's usually about 3 or 4 songs--will lift the sourest mood and short-circuit any tantrum. Bonus points if the dance party involves you holding your not-yet-ambulatory tot!
6. Move like an animal. Pick a beast, any beast--from penguin to frog to lion and duck. Ask your child to imitate its movement. You do the same. Sounds easy but waddling from one side of the room to another, or standing on one leg like a flamingo, or attempting to crab-walk/bear crawl/alligator creep will wear you out. And make you laugh.
7. Recycle the recycling. Take empty water, juice, seltzer or soda bottles from the recycling bin and give them one more use before they are sent to the curb. Line them up at one end of the driveway (or lawn, or apartment) and practice some bowling! Take turns running to the end and rearranging the "pins."
8. Wash the car—with no dawdling! No need to time yourselves, but a brisk rubdown of your car will keep you cool on a hot day, and is about a million times more active than coasting through the car wash drive-through. Not to mention it saves money and teaches kids about the value of a little elbow grease.