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Categories > Exercise and Fitness > Getting started exercising

Let’s get physical

Thanks to gym class and recess, most kids get at least some physical activity Monday through Friday. But come week’s end, with the lure of video games, Internet surfing and TV watching, getting kids up and moving can be a real challenge. Step one in your game plan toward creating weekend workouts for your kids: Talk to them. Find out what sort of activities they most enjoy and what they’ve been wanting to try. Write down ideas and let the family vote—or place suggestions into a baseball cap and let a lucky child pick. And remember, the more you can make physical activity a family affair, the more likely your kids will want to ditch the remote and reach for their sneakers. Some ideas to get you started:

  1. Ask your children to teach you their favorite recess games. Then return the favor. School playgrounds are full of creative yard games. Learning the ones your children love—and teaching them what you enjoyed as a kid, like “Kick the Can” and “S.P.U.D.”—are great ways to burn calories and create family memories.
  2. Buy pedometers. Give your family the “10,000-steps-a-day” challenge. The person who accumulates the most steps throughout the day gets a special reward, like staying up a half hour later than usual.
  3. Be prepared. Never miss a chance for physical fitness. Visiting Grandma? Taking the rest of the clan to see your son’s Little League game? Stash Frisbees or jump ropes in your car so your kids always have something physical to do.
  4. Rethink transportation. Instead of driving to the bank, walk with your kids. Your child has a playdate a few blocks over? Ride your bike with your child to the destination, then spin by later to pick him or her up.
  5. Try something new. Take your bikes off-road, try street hockey on in-line skates or rent cross-country skis or snowshoes on a snowy winter’s day. When you make exercise exciting, you keep your family interested and motivated.
  6. Check out community resources. See whether your neighborhood Y has a family swim night. Sign up for a favorite charity’s walkathon.
  7. Make chores fun. Grab a stopwatch and have a race to see who can rake the biggest pile of leaves or haul the most junk out of the garage in the least amount of time.
  8. Get the street involved. Round up the neighbors for a kickball tournament or a home-run derby.
  9. Sneak activity in. Even if you’re headed for a sedentary activity like watching a movie at the cineplex, make sure you park your car in the farthest spot from the door and take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  10. Limit screen time. Set a cap on how long your children watch TV or play on the computer (most experts recommend no more than two hours of screentime a day). That way your children will have less chance to be sedentary.