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How To Make Sure Your Kids Are Healthy And Fit

Updated on September 1, 2012

Fitness for Kids Made Easy

Fitness for children seems to be an ongoing topic in our country these days and I think part of the problem is that life has changed so much. Kids today are not the same as kids back in let's say my time - the 50s and 60s. When I was growing up, we did not have school buses that took us from our door to school and no matter how far away we lived, we had to walk there. I know, I know....through the bitter cold and raging snowstorms, I walked 5 miles to school and back. Hardly - I grew up in Southern California!

We did walk to school though from grade school to high school - even when we added on extracurriculars like band and had huge loads of schoolbooks. Depending on where I lived at the time, it was a 30 to 60-minute walk one way to and from school. Also, the way that I grew up I spent a lot of time outdoors mostly to avoid unpleasant circumstances - I was always climbing onto roofs or climbing trees, riding my bike or skating, or just plain running!

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We did not have TV for many of my childhood years and thus I developed many other skills - being a tomboy was one of them I suppose but reading and working at a very early age were several other skills which have served me well throughout my life.

Today, I think we all live in such a sedentary society that it is hard to remember exercise or fitness for ANY of us, let alone our children. There is so much going on, so many stressors at school and at home with people trying to do so much and in such a short amount of time - exercise and fitness could not be more vital than at this time!

I was blessed I think in many ways - in marrying a man who loved his children as much as he loved me. He was also a physically active sports enthusiast and together, we probably had enough energy to light up a town! Our first child was born with ADD and he was a handful. Our second son was born legally blind and that put a whole new light on life in general and how one goes through it. Our daughter was born just perfect - but bless her heart, she was born with the 2 brothers! She had no choice but to go along for the ride of a lifetime.

We discovered early on that treating ADD was a mixed bag. Minimal vision was also definitely not something we had bargained for. However, in order to keep Jonathan, our oldest, on an even keel and keep him from perpetual restrictions and detention, we discovered early on exercise was the ticket. I think had he not been athletic, we still would have pursued all that we did or gotten him involved in all that we did. It was just better for him!

At age 5, we enrolled him in a city program for track events and he proved that we had done the right thing - he had a ball but not only that, he discovered his inherent athletic ability and he never looked back after that. Over the years, he was involved in every sport imaginable and we just kept signing him up because it was so positive for him. He could finally do well at something and not get into trouble - as much! We also enrolled him in dance! A well-rounded athlete after all needs to learn to dance!

Not wanting to slight the other 2 kids, we enrolled Patrick in the same things - as much as we possibly could. It was not always easy and he did suffer more in terms of trying his very hardest and not succeeding AS MUCH - but the rewards were great and he never felt that he was a 'handicapped' kid. To the contrary, I believe to this day much of his attitude stems from the fact that we let him do everything he could do - including playing soccer, skiing, water skiing, horseback riding, riding a bike (no training wheels), and playing baseball. Unfortunately, the latter it turned out was a little TOO dangerous - listening for a baseball - priceless! I did make him give that up.

Katie as well followed along in their footsteps, though she was not as enthusiastic at it at times. She excelled at everything she did though and was a 'natural' - she just didn't care for it as much but over the years through high school, she was in baseball, soccer, track and dance.

How To Keep Your Kids Fit

I see advertisements all the time for kids and fitness - an hour a day and all that.  I see statistics every day that break my heart - between 15 and 33% of all children and adolescents in the United States are overweight!  This just can't be!

I think the solution is simple - it all starts in the home and with the family unit.  In our case, we had to make a choice.  We both worked full-time and we never had our kids in daycare.  It was just a decision we made and with our children's special needs (that Kate was such a handful), we felt more comfortable taking care of them.  However, in our 'spare' time, we involved them in wholesome activities that not only pushed their bodies (in a totally fun way) but pushed their minds and taught them to interact with others.  It was a win-win situation. 

We were not a 'sports crazed' family - we did not think our children had to be the best - only that they GAVE their best.  We participated in everything that they did - but it wasn't just sports.  They were also involved in music and language, scouts and other groups to round out their education and keep them busy.  It also kept us busy - like 24/7!  We just felt that devoting ourselves to our children and their formative years was that important.  We also made sure that they had the other necessary components of a good life - a diet rich in nutritional, homemade food for the most part, laughter, love, pets, and security.  We tried to make sure that we got them to participate but we also hope we taught them what it was to be part of something and learn to take care of yourself as well!

Apart from the sports and other activities that they were constantly involved in - a year round plethora of them - we also did many things just as a family or with extended family and friends.  Things that were part of fitness - hiking, boating, going to the park for a picnic, camping, biking - we tried to always keep it exciting and keep it fun.  When I look back on it now, I get tired thinking of it all but it was so wonderful!  I just don't know how we kept up all the time but our kids were so much fun and the good memories that we have are simply treasures.

Great Fitness Short With Free Things

More Kid Fitness Ideas

  • Skateboarding
  • Dance
  • Gymnastics
  • Roller skating
  • Ice skating
  • Trampoline
  • Hockey
  • Marching band
  • Hand corps
  • Cheerleading
  • Horseback riding
  • Mushing
  • Yard work! It's not a sport but it is good for anyone to do and is great exercise!
  • Housework and house maintenance

Just about anything you can think of to involve your children in can be turned into fitness. The important thing is keeping them involved and encouraging them to participate no matter what their skill level. The example starts at home and if kids see their parents being excited and getting on board the fitness train, they will likewise assume this as part of their lifestyle and remember it into adulthood. They will have learned that to take care of yourself, keeping physically fit is part of the package!

Ideas for Kid Fitness

The funny thing is that kids don't even have to know that they are keeping fit - if they are involved in things and just being a kid - they are probably going to be fit!

  • Soccer - One of the best overall sports for kids because of the running
  • Swimming - One of the best overall sports for kids of all sizes and levels
  • Baseball
  • Football
  • Martial Arts
  • Simple exercises with your kids or exercise videos
  • Track
  • Team sports through the Y
  • Team sports through the Park and Recreation Department
  • Team sports through Boys or Girls Clubs
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Backpacking

Summing It Up

In this economy, many people are struggling and many people have lost their jobs. Things are tight for a lot of families. There are things, however, that are surprisingly simple that don't cost a penny - like walking for miles together or riding bikes together - or hiking. The investment that you make as a family working together towards fitness will last a lifetime - and the benefits far outweigh the time spent doing things with and for your children.

Final thoughts from a seasoned parent:

  • Give your children the gift of a good, healthy diet!
  • Turn off the TV!! It should not be used as a substitute for activities or love!
  • Quit buying junk foods or buy them sparingly!  Do not let your child or children feel that eating makes up for love and attention.
  • Get off the computer and get your kids off the computer! While there is a boatload of information and fun there, it is so much more important to spend that time forming who your child is and who he or she will become!
  • Be fit yourself! Have a care for your own health and try and set the best possible example you can for your children.
  • Enroll your child in activities as your time and finances allow - it will give them an enrichment unparalleled to anything else by exposing them to more things and keeping them fit and healthy.
  • Just remember to enjoy the activities that your kids are in - participate - don't pressure them to be the best or fuss at them if they are the worst! All that matters is the exercise - literally!
  • Take time for family fun and play games - outside, inside, dance, run, ENJOY your children because (take it from me) it goes by in a blink! Give them a running chance at life by caring for them and keeping them safe AND healthy.


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    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Ron~ Glad you liked and I think we all need to move towards making sure our kids stay healthy these days.

    • profile image

      Ron 6 years ago

      Well written hub. Thanks for all the great tips and advice

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Good deal - that is the best way - to sneak in things (for all of us) and not think!

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 7 years ago

      I just needed a reminder to keep busy.I took my God daughter out in the yard and we just had fun.Watering the plants and the grass.I made her exercise she didn't even know it.We both keep fit that way.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for commenting Dream On - it is so true - walking is the best exercise ever!

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 7 years ago

      When I grew up we we had to take the bus to school.That still didn't stop us from walking.We walked to the bus and walked home after being dropped off.My friends did not do alot of team sports when we were younger.But we walked everywhere we went.Walking was fun and I have never stopped since.Think healthy and you can be healthy one step at a time.I enjoyed your hub and now I am going to get out and do some exercise.I have less time than when I was young.A little today will put me in the right ballpark.Play ball without the ball.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 8 years ago from Washington

      Amen! My kids growing up were in on the video games and I could see how they could become addicted....luckily they were too busy with all their activities and it was just an occasional hobby rather than a full-time obsession! I don't know though on reflecting how Bob and I did all that! Whew - explains I guess how we ended up with the mals - we are used to pouring heart and soul into everything - thanks for commenting!!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Thank goodness for sports and fishing, or my grands would never put down the Wii!!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 8 years ago from Washington

      Thanks so much Aaron99 - and thanks for commenting!

    • profile image

      AARON99 8 years ago

      Another great hub on kid's fitness with lots of useful informations. Enjoy.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 8 years ago from Washington

      Thank you, creativeone59 for commenting, and yes, it all starts at home and if you start early, it all works.

      Alekhouse, thanks for commenting - you are so kind and thanks for the praise.

      Shellie, exactly - even our kids grew up with lots of kids who 'couldn't keep up with ours' - it was sad. A waste of good kids because people were always 'too busy'. I think it is about a state of mind but you are most right - quality time is time spent with your kids. I so miss those younger years because in truth, even though it was so busy and sometimes so hard, it was also the ride of a lifetime. Wouldn't have traded it for anything. Thanks for commenting!

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 8 years ago from Holly, MI

      Great Hub! I think it is just disgraceful how so many children think that playing video games is a hobby or exercise and parents don't do anything to get involved with keeping their kids healthy. I remember growing up even though I was always active, I would still go for a walk every day after dinner with my grandma and whoever else happen to be over for dinner come along too and it never felt like was just our quality time.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      As usual, great hub with lots of good information and well written

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you Audrey, If we start early teaching our children how to help themselves stay in shape, it will be a normal thing for them and become a part of their lives. Great hub, thank you for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 8 years ago from Washington

      You are the sweetest - and I know you know what I mean! I feel like life has given me so many 'burdens' but they are not truly burdens because they taught me how to survive and they taught me where to end up....for my kids and even in the end, for closure with so many things. It makes you who you are. I think life things define you yes, but how you roll with them - that truly says it all. It is the trial through fire kinda deal and I actually am happy for my earlier struggles because maybe they prepared me for what was ahead - and told me what to look for - my perfect mate. Thank you for always saying such wonderful things! I know you totally 'get it'!

    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 8 years ago

      akirchner - I hear you loud and clear as I have always felt the same way. I couldn't have said it any better. Coming from where I came from. I never dreamed that it would be possible.

      My children have always been the most important thing in my life. PRICELESS IS PERFECT!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 8 years ago from Washington

      Thank you Colin Wee for your comment - and the website information. The family unit is where it all should start and I applaud your lifestyle.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 8 years ago from Washington

      Thank you Sage as always for commenting....I feel that I have been so blessed coming from my background and having such unique and wonderful children - oh man! They are to coin the word PRICELESS. I would give anything to do it all over again!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 8 years ago from Washington

      Thank you so much drbj for commenting - we have lived the 'down' side of team sports, too - everyone can get carried away - but the idea of keeping children fit in some manner is important. I feel as in all things, being a well-rounded person - that's the key!

    • profile image

      Colin Wee 8 years ago

      Good advice. My wife and I try to be models of what to do for the children. They see us moderating our foods, lead fit/healthy lifestyles, and make nutrition a central part of daily meals. Checkout the information provided by CSIRO, which offers a Wellbeing Plan for Kids with free downloads that help on various issues of health and lifestyle. Cheers. Colin

    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 8 years ago

      A beautiful and well written hub. How fortunate your children are to have two really great parents. And how fortunate you both are to have three really great kids.

      I love the fact that you did not let their disabilities get in the way. You set a perfect stage for your kids to follow.

      I agree with you that, "it all starts in the home and with the family unit." so very well stated.

      Great Job!


    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 8 years ago from south Florida

      I totally agree with you. Getting your children involved in team sports helps keep them fit, dissipate some of that boundless energy, and at the same time learn how to be a member of the team.

      All is for nothing however, if a parent can never find time to attend a game. Excellent information.