Three R’s of ExeRcise for Kids: Run, Ride and Racquet Sports
The popularity of the Internet and social media has decreased the importance of exercise for many U.S. children, but by focusing on the three R’s of exercise – running, riding and racquet sports – families can put the fun back in fitness and time spent together.
All it takes to implement a healthy family fitness plan and reap the benefits of the three R’s is a nominal investment in basic equipment, a little creativity, and a few hours each week. Here is a simple plan that will give you a jump start to healthy exercise for kids.
Begin with running since most kids already have the ability to do it, and it does not require the purchase of any equipment. The idea is to get those legs moving. Start by running sprints across the yard or an area of a local park to see who can reach a designated point first, or play a simple game of tag. Add a ball and the possibilities for running multiply quickly – kick ball, tag football, or softball are all fun ways to get kids’ feet moving. An inexpensive Frisbee will also get the kids running and helps to build hand-eye coordination.
Next, we tackle riding. Most kids already own a bicycle or tricycle, depending on their age, but the idea here is to actually ride it. Kids are more likely to do this when a parent or older sibling comes along, so initially, plan this activity for times when this is possible. Ride around the block, around the park, or around the apartment complex. Loop a plastic grocery bag over the handlebars and have a scavenger hunt appropriate to the location – look for a pinecone, a leaf, a rock – or perhaps a soda can or candy wrapper – any or all of these could be items targeted for the hunt, just use your imagination. Last we move to racquet sports, which is likely to be the activity that requires the purchase of some basic equipment.
The simplest, least expensive, and most enjoyable racquet sport for most families is badminton. Once you have acquired the equipment – a net, poles, racquets, and shuttlecocks or birdies, all you need is a flat, grassy surface and you are ready to go. Kids can practice basic serves and running from point to point on their sides of the net.
Most kids love a good game of badminton, regardless of their ages. Because today’s kids are obsessed with screen time – TV, computer, and video games – it is more important than ever to get their feet moving a few hours each week to promote their overall physical well-being. Running, riding, and racquet sports are a great way to build healthy hearts, promote healthy weight, and build positive self-esteem while enjoying a few hours together each week, so make plans today to start a 3-R program for your family today and get those feet moving!