Physical activity is one of the most important things families can do to stay healthy. Kids who are physically active sleep better, have better moods, and get better grades. It can be hard to find the time in our busy lives. The good news is that when your kids are moving more, they are often feeling good, and that can make your life easier!
Tips to Add Movement to Your Day
Walk or bike some of the way or all of the way to school. As a habit we always hop in the car, but walking or biking to school is a great way to incorporate movement into your day. If you live too far from the school, consider walking or biking part of the way. Could you park your car and walk the last five minutes? Or skip the carpool lane and pick your kids up on foot in the afternoon? It’s a great way to connect with your child and hear about their day, and it’s a lot less stressful to walk right up instead of sitting in a line of cars.
Remember that recess and physical education are essential pieces of movement for kids. Talk to your child about how much play they’re getting and what they do to keep moving. If they are not sure, brainstorm with your child things they can do to be active during recess.
Encourage movement by putting limits on the amount of screen time your kids get. Just as quickly as minutes of physical activity can add up, so can minutes on electronics, watching television, smart phones, tablets, et cetera. Screen time is often replacing physical activity. So set limits and stick to them.
Try to move a little when everyone gets home from school. Run around, play outside in the snow, and just get some of that energy out! Set a timer for 10 minutes and you and your kids will be amazed at how fast the time goes when you play together. The best way to get active is to find a game that involves running or chasing, like tag, frisbee, or soccer.
Visit your neighborhood parks. Many community parks are free and kids love them. Break up your usual routine with a trip to the park. Stay for as little or as much time as you want. Parents and kids alike will appreciate the change in scenery.
Show kids that you prioritize being physically active. Getting the blood moving through our bodies makes everyone feel better mentally and physically. When you choose to play a basketball game of HORSE or jump rope, your kids will start to notice the active things you do and will want to join in!
Connect as a family with a post-dinner dance party. Take turns picking a favorite song and showing each other your best moves. Kids love when their parents get silly with them. Bonus! Ask the kids to draw a trophy and the winner of the dance-off gets to display the "trophy" by their bed!
Activity throughout the day all adds up, and so do the benefits. Take the first step and get your kids moving—encourage them to Play Your Way!
Ideas for Parents & Guardians to Encourage Kids to Play
- Find a Place Outside to Make Your Own Bubbles or Create a Bubble Water Table for Younger Kids to Splash In
- Play a Game of HORSE Outside with a Basketball or Soccer Ball and Ask a Friend to Join
- Add Food Color to Water to Make Fun Ice Cubes and Use the Cubes to Play Hopscotch Outside
- Include Friends with All Abilities by Asking Them What They Like to Play—Try Whatever Game they Suggest
- Draw a Treasure Map with Crayons or Markers and then Hide Treasures Around the House—Invite Friends to the Treasure Hunt
- Play a Board Game or Card Game and Act Out the Game as You Play—See Who Can Keep Moving the the Most Time
- Encourage Kids to Put Down the Phone and Put On a Play Based On their Favorite Video Game Characters—Help their Imaginations Grow Dance Party Icon
- Have a Dance Party and See Who Can Invent the Funniest Dance, the Quickest Dance, or the Most Dramatic Dance
About Play Your Way!
Play Your Way! is a statewide effort that encourages kids to play their way for one hour (or more) per day. Physical activity is important, but it should be fun and something kids enjoy! Play Your Way! can also be seen in schools. Locally, we work with school staff and community partners to help schools make changes that allow kids to be active before, during, and after the school day.
This material was funded by USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. Read the full non-discrimination statement and learn how to file a complaint.