Want your child to be physically active and fit? I can’t imagine very many parents answering “no” to that question. So how can we encourage children to make physical activity a priority instead of spending hours in front of the television or computer? The answer is simple: we have to set an example! Kids learn by watching us. If they see us walking to the local store to pick up milk and our lottery tickets instead of driving the car to get them, you’re setting a good example. If the entire family takes the dog for a walk every weekend instead of hiring a dog walker, your child will learn to treasure the time together. It’s important to realize that parents who simply drop their kids off in the babysitting program while they go for their regular workout at the gym are not inspiring an active lifestyle. However, if parents spend some time with their kids on the basketball court shooting baskets or bouncing a ball in the squash courts, children will perceive this activity as fun and they’ll want to go to the gym with you. Kids are motivated by “the fun factor” when it comes to physical exercise. It may be important for you to develop 6-pack abs but your child isn’t concerned about their dress size. Have you ever watched kids at recess on the school playground? They will spend the entire time skipping rope, playing hopscotch or dodge ball whereas if you ask them to walk around a shopping mall with you, they’ll complain they are tired and bored. To them, playing is fun but walking is a chore! Spring is around the corner (although you’d never know it by the lousy weather we are having in Toronto this season) so it’s the perfect time to get outside and become active with your kids. Take your bikes in to your local bike shop to have the tires pumped and the brakes checked and then head out together as a family. Most cities have a great network of bike paths but even a bike ride to your local ice-cream shop for a small treat is a great way to spend quality family time together! What does your family like to do together and does it involve exercise? Please remember it’s never too late to incorporate exercise in to your families’ lifestyle.
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