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6 Tips for Motivating Your Kids to Stay Active


By Daniel P. Hatfield, PhD, Co-developer of Cyberchase: Step It Up!

The evidence is clear: active kids do better! Here are just a few of the ways kids benefit from getting up and moving more:

  • Getting physical activity can help kids stay focused. Studies have shown that even short bursts of activity at school help kids stay on task during classroom lessons.
  • Physical activity may help boost brainpower. Kids who are more physically active tend to get better grades and do better on standardized tests.
  • When kids find ways to build movement into their everyday routines, they are creating healthy habits that can last a lifetime.
  • Adding more movement into the day can provide a natural mood boost. Studies have even linked kids’ physical activity with higher self-esteem and lower risk of depression.

To encourage kids to move more at school, THIRTEEN, producer of the PBS KIDS math series Cyberchase, teamed up with ChildObesity180 at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition to create Cyberchase: Step It Up!. This new program inspires kids and educators to find small ways to take more steps throughout the school day while also learning new math skills.

Five new Cyberchase adventures also inspire kids to get active with math – from encouraging them to be active and eat well, to teaching them about reducing waste and growing gardens.

Families play an important role in helping kids move more all day long. Here are six ways you can help get kids moving:

        1. Be a role model.

          Parents and other family members are important models for healthy behaviors. Try making little changes to add more steps to your day, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. When you increase your own activity, your kids might just follow your lead!

        2. Encourage but don’t nag.

          Sometimes kids are hesitant to participate in physical activity. Instead of nagging your kids be active, figure out what they’re willing and able to do. For example, try giving a few options and letting kids choose.

        3. Let kids be leaders.

          Kids often like leading activities. Children who lead a family walk or afternoon adventure may start to identi­fy themselves as active kids. That can encourage their peers, siblings, and friends to become more active too.

        4. Mix up your routine.

          Look for ways to add movement into your family’s daily activities. For example, make a family walk part of your after-dinner routine. If you can, walk with your child to school rather than driving.

        5. Discover the great outdoors (or indoors!).

          Kids who spend more time outdoors tend to move more. Try finding a local playground or park and take a family outing! If you’re stuck inside, you’ve still got options. Dance, jump rope, or play active games like hide-and-go-seek.

        6. Give a pat on the back.

          Positive reinforcement can go a long way toward getting kids excited to move more and keep going. When you see kids being physically active, give a high five or words of encouragement!

Dr. Daniel Hatfield is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. His current research and teaching interests center on promoting physical activity and healthy eating among children and adolescents, particularly in underserved communities.

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
WNET logo
Additional funding is provided by Lynne and Marc Benioff, the Tiger Baron Foundation, Shailaja and Umesh Nagarkatte and Ellen Marcus.
The JPB Foundation NSF Heising-Simons Foundation EY

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