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Helping Kids Reap the Mental and Physical Benefits of Exercise

by the editorial team and Sophia Ruan Gushée


Digital screens and other technologies have made it more challenging for parents to get their kids to exercise.  

The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that the majority of kids spend almost 7 hours per day engaged with some kind of technology. However, with a little ingenuity, parents can help their kids reap the many benefits of movement.

Exercise is Essential in Mental, Emotional, and Physical Health

A recent article in Business Insider reported that even Bill Gates and Steve Jobs limited their kid’s screen times. Doing so increases the likelihood of many benefits, including that children will go outside and play, or pick up a sport. Exercise advantages include:

  • Strengthening heart and lungs
  • Keeping blood sugar levels healthy and reducing the chance of non-insulin dependent diabetes
  • Reducing the risk of certain types of cancer
  • Releasing endorphins to improve mood
  • Building confidence and increasing self-esteem
  • Improving academic performance
  • Supporting mental functions such as clarity, cognition, energy, and creativity. According to the Harvard Health Blog, regular exercise helps memory and thinking, reduces insulin resistance, inflammation, and stimulates the release of growth factors by positively affecting the health and growth of brain cells.

Tips to Get Kids to Exercise More

1. Provide children with toys that encourage movements, such as jump ropes, balls, skates, bicycles, and kites. If you have the space and budget for it, ping pong (click on the image below to exploring ordering a pink pong table from Amazon) and badminton can also be an engaging activities that can elevate heart rates while also exercising hand-eye coordination.

2. Support children in joining teams and clubs.

3. Keep the television out of children's bedrooms and in a community room, like a family room.  Make TV time a shared intentional activity. During commercials, stretch, do situps and pushups to encourage your children to consider the wellness of their bodies.

4. Digital screens can also promote physical activity and fun through Just Dance videos (available on YouTube for free; an example is in the video below) and other videos that guide dance or exercise.

5. Connect with your children over a walk or hike.

6. Take the stairs.

7. Park further from the store entrance.

8. Have fun family days where each family member choose a different activity.

9. Learn a new skill with your children, such as fishing, bird-watching, rock climbing, and even a trapeze class.

10. Set a good example.

11. Plant a garden with your kids.

12. Volunteer as a family for a fundraising marathon, or walk.

13. Get everyone a pedometer so that family members can share at dinner how many steps they took so far. 

Exercise Habits Are a Win Win

Parents are role models for their children and can contribute significantly to their child’s mental, emotional, and physical health. By making movement fun and playing actively with their children, parents benefit, too. Parents who establish healthy habits themselves help the whole family stay mentally and physically fit.


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