Exercise with Your Kids

by Monique Ryan, MS RD LDN

Exercise with Your Kids

When today's grandparents were kids, there were no computers, video games, cable TV and few fast food restaurants. Most of them spent free time riding bikes, climbing trees and playing tag. Today's kids watch an average of 20 to 30 hours of TV per week. Parents can support their kids in being more active by getting in the exercise game themselves.

Support Your Kids' Activities

  • Be a role model for your kids. Present physical activity as an important time to take care of your body and health, rather than a chore. Find activities you enjoy and be active for at least 30 minutes five days a week. Remember, adults need at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, and children need 60.
  • Praise, reward and encourage your kids' physical activity with activity related equipment, games or outings.
  • Plan time in your kids' schedule to engage in 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Kids can accumulate their 60 minutes in shorter chunks during the day.
  • Head for the nearest park, swing set or jungle gym after school.
  • Jump rope with your kids or organize a neighborhood jump rope group.
  • When foul weather strikes, play active indoor games.
  • Organize your family room or living room for more activity. Think kid's yoga or dancing to music after dinner.
  • Make time for half a day of family activity each weekend, such as a family walk, bike ride or tennis match. Ask your kids which activity they most want to do.
  • Play a backyard game such as freeze tag or Frisbee.
  • Set up a backyard net for badminton or other net ball sports.
  • Play catch or soccer with your kids or organize a neighborhood game.
  • Encourage kids to participate in active chores such as light housework, raking leaves, sweeping the walks or cleaning the garage. Make the chores fun to do—turn on the radio in the garage—and do the chores with them.
  • Take a nature hike to collect leaves and rocks to make a collage.
  • Walk or bike to the local library to borrow a book. during the day.
  • Encourage fun physical activity time during kids' free time. Next time your kids say, "I'm bored," offer to shoot hoops or jump rope.
  • Enroll your kids in organized activities. They are a great way for kids to get fit. Encourage them to participate in a variety of activities such as soccer, swimming or dance.

Get Active as a Family

  • Gather the family together and play interactive computer games that require physical activity.
  • Get up early with your kids to walk the dog before school and have them walk the dog after school.

Ways to Reduce Screen Time

  • Limit the extracurricular time your kids spend in front of a computer or TV to less than two hours daily.
  • Use dance DVDs for some physically active TV time or encourage dance video games that involve the whole body to play.
  • Keep the TV in the living room and not in kids' bedrooms. This will help decrease how much TV kids watch and also help to control what they watch.
  • Turn off the TV while eating.
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About the author:

Monique C Ryan MS RD LDN

Monique Ryan, MS RD LDN

is owner of Personal Nutrition Designs, LLC, a nutrition consulting company based in the Chicago area. She works with clients in the areas of sports nutrition, weight management, eating disorders, and women's health, as well as disease prevention and wellness. She has consulted with athletes competing at all levels, including Olympic and professional athletes. She is the author of "Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes," "Performance Nutrition for Team Sports," and "Performance Nutrition for Winter Sports."




  • Cook healthy

    Involve your child in the cutting, mixing and preparation of all meals. Even a snack can be healthy.

  • Eat right

    Sit down together as a family to enjoy a wonderful meal and the opportunity to share the day's experiences with one another.

  • Shop smart

    To encourage a healthy lifestyle, get your children involved in selecting the food that will appear at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.

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