Kids like things that are fun. How can adults make exercise fun?

Given our posts in the past couple months about health technology and its incentive potential for children, we’ve also noted technology isn’t necessarily a prerequisite to encourage kids to get moving! This is especially important to keep in mind as health technology may have unintended, unhealthy consequences. Plus, there are plenty of other options that are easier on the wallet! We’ve compiled some easy, timeless ways to motivate children and teenagers to exercise below.

Time Magazine reports that “For a child to be active, they have to really enjoy the activity.” One of the best ways to ensure this is to encourage kids to decide what activity they will do. Whether it’s supporting children in participating in the sports that interest them or asking them where they’d like to go hiking, giving young kids the autonomy to choose will allow them to look forward to it.

Another way to foster fun is by framing activity as a reward. Experts agree exercise should never be a punitive measure. After all, this would take the enjoyment out of activity, causing negative associations with healthy behavior. Try creating reward incentives like “once homework is finished, we can play a game of H-O-R-S-E at the basketball courts.”

Inviting friends is also an excellent way to create a positive environment for physical activity. Going on a bike ride? Invite a classmate. Playing a pick-up game of soccer? Tell the neighbors. It’s much harder for kids to turn down their friends’ excitement than their parents’.

On a similar note, parents or caretakers joining in on the activity can be a game changer, especially when friends or neighbors aren’t around. Kids love to be able to show someone their mastsery and receive affirmation, and affirmation from a respected adult goes a long way. Moreover, it adds to enjoyment and satisfaction when Mom or Dad tries, say, the new hop-scotch challenge.

These are just a few (of many) tips that we found repeatedly appearing when parsing through suggestions online. That being said, a plethora of other ideas are available with just a simple Google search! Every kid is different, so CHIL recommends trying out different methods and going with the ones that stick. As the weather gets warmer, take full advantage of the outdoor activity interests and positive young energy it brings!