How to Get Your Kids to Exercise

The childhood obesity rates in the United States are scary. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that “The prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing worldwide.” And the “and the highest level of age-standardized childhood obesity was observed in the United States.”* The highest level! We need to get our kids to exercise!

Twenty five years ago, the Harvard School of Public Health started studying the relationship between screen time and obesity. “Since then, extensive research has confirmed the link between TV viewing [screen time] and obesity in children and adults, in countries around the world…And there’s good evidence that cutting back on TV time can help with weight control.”

It is pretty clear that the answer to how to get your kids to exercise is less screen time. It’s good advice for all of us. But more than that, your kids need to spend that off-screen time with you. Play with your kids! You’ll be more fit and so will your kids. Why not put two and two together? You’ll be more fit, your kids will be more fit, and you might reap some family bonding in the deal.

Here are a couple ideas to get things rolling:

  • Have a water fight; run through the sprinkler together
  • Collect Fireflies (release them later)
  • Devise a fun Parents vs. Kids Competition – who can swing the highest at the playground swingset?
  • Involve the family dog – Frisbee and tag can be more fun when the dog is involved.
  • Learn a completely new sport together – Canoeing, Paddle-boarding, Juggling, Hula Hoop!
  • Dance. Turn up the music and dance together – dance like no one is watching!
  • How about a weekly games night?

Whatever you do, do it together. ““Parents who exercise with their children are not only teaching them how to live a healthy lifestyle, they are also reinforcing the family bonds and creating wonderful family traditions. It’s fantastic for super-busy parents who wouldn’t get as much exercise as they need without incorporating their kids in the process…Children who exercise do better academically and learn how to reduce stress. In essence, adults in the household are showing children a healthy way to relieve stress and improve their thinking while they (the adults) practice what they preach. Children are always observing their parents and picking up on their body language, not just their words.” ((

Now where’s that Hula Hoop?!


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