Motivating Tweens to Move
November 7, 2011
A few months back I got a question from reader Bethanie:
I've been a reader of your blog for a few years, and have a question that I'd love to hear your thoughts about. I'm getting married in the fall and my fiance and I both want to be more active and model this lifestyle for his 11-year-old son. However, there is very little physical/athletic activity that his son likes to do--but he really, really needs to. We are both working on increasing our activity level and watching what we eat more, and I'm keeping a careful eye on consistently serving nutrient-rich meals and snacks, but I'd really appreciate any suggestions on how to get kids who are reluctant to get active to do exactly that.
Sorry this is wordy and rambly, but I'm stuck for more ideas on what to do!
Sweatily! Love that, can I steal it?
Bethanie, first congratulations on the wedding and welcome to instant motherhood! I am a few years out from tweenland, so I contacted Larysa Didio for some help. Larysa is a celebrity personal trainer and fitness expert for numerous magazines. She’s also the co-author of Sneaky Fitness: Fun Foolproof Ways To Slip Fitness Into Your Child's Everyday Life (Running Press, 2009). Here are her tips to motivate tweens:
- Tween kids still love to do things as a family or group so anything that you can plan to do together is great. Sign up for a walking event, charity race or plan an active day that includes fun things like hiking, bowling, etc. Involve a friend or a group of his friends and he’ll think the event is even “cooler.” Let him help you pick which event the family will do. Tween kids love having a say and love the prep work that’s involved.
- Every child can be motivated to move, you just have to find what interests them. To get a child to run on a treadmill may be fruitless but if you see he likes watching martial arts movies or playing judo video games see if he’d like to try a class. Or if he loves watching American Idol and listening to music perhaps he can sign up for some drum lessons (the most active band instrument out there).
- It’s also important to note that traditional fitness options aren’t the only ways to get fit. As long as your child’s body is moving and active, he’s burning calories. Give him chores (that you agree on compensation for) that cause him to be more active like taking out the garbage or raking the lawn. Or you can have a "family car wash" and have fun spraying each other in the meantime.
- One of the best ways to get your family to move more every day is the family stroll after dinner. Studies have shown that exercise after dinner is the most effective at keeping blood sugar levels stable. Take the dog for a walk, pick different routes and bond while you walk. This will also limit after dinner screen time which has been contributed to inactivity and obesity.
Do you have any more advice to get tweens up and moving?