Kids and exercise

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Q:I want to motivate my children to start exercising, but I'm having a hard time. They claim to hate working out. How can I get them away from the screens and, even more than that, enjoy being physically active?

A:Children and adolescents should get 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day, and they'll have the most success if they enjoy what they're doing. There are many ways to be active and reap all the health benefits: biking, climbing, dancing, kickboxing and swimming, to name a few.

Try to make a list of activities your family likes to do and start there. You don't have to join a gym to exercise; most local parks are free and offer programming year-round. You can even try "old school" games like duck-duck-goose and tag for unconventional exercise.

Consider making a rotating schedule where a different person picks the activity each week. There are many exercise DVDs available with enough themes and intensities to match everyone's needs. These are great because they offer instruction on technique that can help limit injuries. Just know that DVDs geared toward adults may not be appropriate for children and adolescents.

A new exercise program should be the start to a lifetime of activity. Start slowly and make small increases to the routine every week or month. Making small, attainable goals gives the family even more victories to celebrate. And don't forget to recognize efforts along the way, not just the accomplishments.

Be sure to incorporate guidelines set forth by The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services into your workouts. Physical activity and exercise can offer great enjoyment for everyone. So get started and remember to have fun! Be sure to consult your primary care physician if you have questions or concerns specific to your children.

-Travis Gallagher, AT, is a licensed athletic trainer with Nationwide Children's Sports Medicine.