Getting kids to exercise is as simple as dance parties in the kitchen, strolling around the neighborhood and signing up for an active class.
Kids are energetic. They love to run, jump and play. So isn’t this the way exercise should be? Making exercise seem more like a fun activity is a smart strategy for getting kids up and moving, but take it easy as you get started with a new routine.
“I encourage families to start slow — it requires conditioning to achieve the ability to regularly complete any activity,” says John La Count, M.D., pediatrician at St. Elizabeth Physicians. “If you want to maintain their interest and prevent injuries, consistent activity is more important than high intensity,” he adds.
SPARK AN INTEREST
Help your child participate in activities that interest her the most. Does she love the water? Try swim lessons. Does she love the outdoors? Try going on a family hike. According to La Count, when you take small steps and introduce activities slowly, kids are more likely to stick with it.
“The slogan ‘just do it’ is truly applicable when it comes to exercise,” La Count says. “Finding something that interests them is crucial.”
Ask your child what she would love to do, and give it a go!
DO IT TOGETHER
Families that workout together, get stronger together. You are your child’s greatest advocate. Your child watches you and learns your every move. Modeling that exercise is fun is one way of steering her in the right direction.
“From the time your child is born, set a good example by taking her on walks in the neighborhood,” La Count says. “Strollers, wagons or backpack carriers are options to help introduce activities to her, while setting a good example,” he adds.
Of course, there are dozens of trails in the tri-state area plus our beautiful local parks for active hiking. Helpful apps such as Maplets and Alltrails can help guide you along the way while monitoring your distance and elevation.
Exercise is important indoors, too, during our cold winter months. If your child loves video games, encourage ones that require movement. Technology can provide fun, physical activity.
IMPORTANCE OF EXERCISE
The earlier exercise is introduced, the better. It will increase your child’s energy level, better her mood and start her on a pathway to good health.
“When established early in life, exercise becomes a lifelong passion decreasing the risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke and diabetes as an adult,” says La Count.
Our area is loaded with physical activities for kids — here are just a few to get you started.
CINCINNATI MUSEUM CENTER
1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati; cincymuseum.org | 513-287-7000
The Center holds a Dance Party every weekend. You can also find plenty of hands-on activities for kids and Museum Camps.
CINCINNATI NATURE CENTER
4949 Tealtown Road, Milford; cincynature.org | 513-831-1711
From guided hikes and summer camps to Marge & Charles Schott Nature PlayScape activities, kids actively explore nature.
THE RED BALLOON CAFE AND PLAY
6200 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati | redballooncafe.com | 513-620-8328
This playroom, cafe, birthday destination and shop offers various kid classes like Zumbini and yoga.
sngcincinnati.com/index.html | 513-474-3685
Kids of all ages can choose between Stretch-N-Grow Fitness, Dancing Stars, Soccer Stars and more at this mobile one-stop fitness shop that comes straight to your school, home or facility.
YMCA OF GREATER CINCINNATI
The YMCA offers various indoor activities from swimming, to gymnastics, sports and energetic camps. Locations in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.