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Tips for exercising with your kids

Biking, hiking and running are all ways to enjoy physical activity as a family
Biking, hiking and running are all ways to enjoy physical activity as a family
Sandy Wallace

Keeping kids active helps improve their health, memory and test scores. Aug. 3-9 is National Exercise With Your Child Week. This is a great time to discover how much fun it can be to make exercising a family activity.

Physical activity help stimulate your child's mind and body
Sandy Wallace

Whether you're running, biking, walking, hiking or just playing in your own backyard, exercising together is a fun way to keep the whole family in shape while spending time together.

Kathleen Tullie is the founder of BOKS, Build Our Kids' Success, a free before-school physical activity program run by moms, dads, P.E. teachers and all other types of volunteers in 1,000 local schools around the world.

BOKS wants to use this week to promote these benefits and offer tips on how to make exercise fun for their children. Tullie shares these tips to make exercise fun for kids:

Schedule time: In today’s busy world, we so often rely on our calendars as a reminder. That being said, adding time to exercise with your kids is a great way to make it happen. However, that exercise doesn’t always have to be a trip to the gym or track. On Saturday mornings during the summer we bike to breakfast. Another idea is to have a daily idea jar, where your child can pick the activity once a day. It could be a family whiffle ball game, or a walk in the park. Exercise is medicine – take your daily dose.

Less screen time: Take your child’s favorite video game outdoors by creating an obstacle course with different levels and challenges to keep your child engaged. If you are watching TV, have a commercial break challenge – during commercials dance, do push-ups or sit-ups. We have a white board in the hall that lists activity ideas for commercial breaks. Bring BOKS to your school and we’ll provide you with numerous obstacle courses to try with many kids or just your own.

Invite friends to join: Exercise doesn’t have to be between just you and your child. During the summer months you could have a monthly neighborhood hike or kickball game. The more the merrier. Even a trip to the beach or lake can create an opportunity to get kids moving with their parents. Frisbee, body surfing or just collecting shells. The key is to keep it fun.

Use healthy foods to fuel your child: Exercising with your child can also lead to a talk about making healthy eating choices. Before a hike, my daughter and I will come up with some fun and healthy snacks to bring. Try celery with peanut butter (no sugar added) instead of cookies, or carrots with hummus instead of potato chips. Also when exercising remember to bring water to hydrate.

Start BOKS at your local school: Have a hand in building a healthier generation by bringing the BOKS program to your child’s school. Build Our Kids’ Success is a free, before-school physical activity program aimed to get kids moving in the morning and their minds ready for a day of learning. In fact, a recent National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) study conducted on behalf of BOKS validates the stance that exercise, especially before school, can have a positive impact on both classroom performance and behavior. By volunteering to be a BOKS Trainer, you can spend more time with children in the community, including your own, and provide them with the exercise they need to fuel their learning.

Build Our Kids’ Success, an initiative of Reebok and the Reebok Foundation, is a free before-school physical activity program. BOKS was founded on the principle Active Kids = Active Minds, and was created by a group of moms after reading Dr. John Ratey’s book "Spark", which states that “exercise is the single most powerful tool that we have to optimize the function of our brains.” The goal of the BOKS program is to enhance academic performance and the overall health of kids through physical activity. The program is simple to implement. Visit the website for more information or to enroll your school.

When you share time together as a family engaging in active pursuits, your kids will learn that it's fun to exercise. Physical activity is good for the body, mind and soul. Spend some time together this week enjoying physical activity as a family.