These days, it can be a struggle to entice your kids to work out their bodies, when their eyes are so often glued to a screen. This is especially true when you’re on a budget and lessons for swimming, athletics, dancing or soccer add up to create a giant hole in your wallet.
Here’s what you can do about it.
Active Kids voucher
If you live in NSW, you’re in luck. The new, government-funded Active Kids program lets you apply for a voucher valued up to $100 per year, for each student enrolled in school. After applying online, you can use the voucher with registered activity providers, to cover the cost of membership for sport and fitness-related activities.
Incorporate family exercise into your morning or afternoon routine.
Turn exercise into daily routine
Is watching TV - or doing other screen-related activities - a part of your daily routine as a family, either before or after school? Cut out one of these times and incorporate exercise instead, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. This can be as simple as walking the dog together, going for a swim in the pool or riding your bikes around the block. When you make it a routine part of the day, much the same as breakfast, you’ll soon turn it into a healthy, enjoyable habit.
Turn exercise into a fun competition
Download a free app or invest in a pedometer, and you’ll quickly turn exercise into a fun competition for everyone. The recommended goal for fitness is doing 10,000 steps per day. Start with this and motivate everyone by seeing who can do the most over a day or a week. Plus, they’ll still get the thrill of using a tech gadget to do so.
Choose active entertainment over sit-down dinners or the movies.
Choose active entertainment
Remember, all forms of moving are better than not moving at all.
It’s lovely to go out for a family dinner or to the movies. But, when you swap one of these regular activities for something more active, you’ll ramp up the incidental exercise via entertainment alone. Some options that won’t cost much more than dinner or the movies include bowling and mini golf. Remember, all forms of moving are better than not moving at all.
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Spend one weekend day in nature
It’s tempting to hang around the house on the weekend, especially when everyone’s tired after a long week. However, unless you’re sick or sleep-deprived, this tends to have the opposite effect and feeds exhaustion instead. Make a point of spending a few hours in nature, on as many weekends as you can. Take a rainforest hike, swim in the surf, ride your bikes through bush trails or go kayaking.
When you turn exercise into a habit, by incorporating it into your daily and weekly routine, the kids will automatically spend more time off-screen, without costing you a lot of money.