Encouraging children to get off the couch

Ensuring regular fitness in a child’s life is one way of preventing them from getting overweight or obese, besides other health benefits. However, helping kids find the motivation to exercise is not always easy. Child has some tips.

It’s no secret that many children spend far more time playing games online than they spend running around outside. Besides obesity, type 2 diabetes rates are also increasing in younger children and can often be attributed to obesity and lifestyle. The following are ways to help kids find enjoyment in fitness.


Modern technology isn’t all bad and using technology to help children get active is almost too easy. With an Apple Watch or FitBit, children can be encouraged by technology to get up and go outside. Apple watches allow for fitness competitions within friends and family which can help kids become active. Every child loves the feeling of beating their friends and family, so these competitions can be a great way to get them to exercise.

Make it a routine

Scheduling a regular workout or exercise programme into a child’s day-to-day routine helps to normalise exercise. Once they’re started, making exercise a part of the day eventually makes it feel as normal as brushing teeth. Start slow, with even just 5-10 minutes of exercise a day, whether it be a home workout from a YouTube video or time outside playing football, and gradually increase the duration of time. A recommended goal is 30 minutes per day at least five times per week. 

Pick a time of day that works for the children, such as after school or after dinner. After only one week of exercising at the same time every day, the mind and body will get into the groove and pattern of regular exercise. It will eventually become second nature and trying to get children to wrap up their exercise will become the hard part.

Setting a goal

Setting a goal to work towards is one of the best ways to get children to work towards something. They will feel encouraged to train and will feel very rewarded after they’ve completed their goal. Helping to set their goal and when it should be accomplished is a great way to get your children to stay focused. Introducing ideas or giving examples is a great way for them to get active. For instance, suggesting “in four weeks, I will be able to run 5km in under 45 minutes,” is a great way to encourage them to get out for a run every day. 

Setting an example

If a parent is working out, doing yoga, or taking part in any sort of exercise, including sports, a child will see the example being set and be more likely to follow suit. Just like they watch a parent read a book and want to read together, they will watch adults exercise and want to take part.

Vocalising positive feelings towards exercise around the house can help inspire kids to exercise. Phrases such as “I feel great after that workout” or that “bike ride at Ta’ Qali was so much fun” is a great way to get them to start their own exercise routine.

“If a parent is working out, a child will see the example being set and be more likely to follow suit”

Exercising with children

Inviting children to join parents in their own daily workout routine can get them excited about exercise. Most young children, and perhaps some older kids as well, look up to their parents and often aspire to be just like them. Encouraging kids to get off the couch or get out of their bedroom for a run on their own can be hard, but if they’re asked to join along with a parent, they may feel a lot better about it.

Make it social

Signing kids up on their own for tennis or swimming lessons, or signing them up for a sports team can be difficult if they don’t know anyone else going. Getting a friend or two of theirs to join will make them excited about the activity. Making exercise fun will certainly increase the chances of children wanting to continue with it. Due to the current pandemic, it is advisable to take the necessary precautions when engaging in such activities.

Getting kids excited about exercise can be difficult and frustrating, but by using the above tips, children hopefully will not to be need to be bribed into exercising. With regular exercise, it will not take long to see welcome changes such as in a more positive mood, improved sleep and, possibly, less time spent in front of the screen. After a few weeks, they may even be choosing a bike ride over a video game.

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