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As technology progresses, every generation seems to recall their younger years…spent outside NOT in front of the T.V. So, we pull the plugs out of the XBox or nab the remote and authoritatively press “off.” Then we shove the kids out the door telling them to play tag or Red Rover…just, something!

Perhaps in a dream scenario that all goes according to plan. But, if you are taking that approach to forcing your kids out the door to stay active…you may be sabotaging your whole mission! The American Heart Association has found that this approach actually makes exercise a punishment. Rather than making them go outside, give them the option to have 30 minutes of play before homework.

See, you are actually using the activity to counter something a kid really doesn’t want to do. Now, going outside is totally better than homework! When I read that, it completely shocked me.


However, you also have to rethink what “physical activity” is to you versus your kid.

Reprogram what “exercise” is or can be to your kids. Just because capture the flag was fun to you doesn’t mean it’s fun to your kids. It doesn’t have to be running or strapping on a jersey for a competitive sport…well, at least first. Build a foundation of confidence first. Many kids are too afraid to try a sport because they don’t want to fail. Find time to practice with them! But, also know that the traditional sports may just not be of interest to your child–don’t worry, kids’ interests are fleeting…so you may not have to pack up your all-star dreams just yet.

Help them create their own craving for physical activity. This is the time to foster a sense of curiosity. When they grow older, it becomes harder and harder to play multiple sports or find the same amount of time for hobbies they love.  Whether it be skateboarding, yoga, walking or simply jump roping…it’s getting them moving and that’s the point! Support them, not your own idea of “sport.”

In fact, being active happens inside the home as well! Don’t use the same “workout” philosophy as you do…we all know our “gym time” can get boring. Kids have this same philosophy…being active is a lifestyle and not a “chore.”

Mix it up at home and hold some family wide competitions! Create timed races and events that get you up and moving all around.

For even more ideas on leading an active family, check out the American Heart’s article on keeping active in the household here.