Now the nights are starting to draw in, children are getting less and less time to play outside after school.  This, coupled with the draw of the tablet or games console, can mean that children are becoming less and less active.

However, an active body makes for a more attentive brain, so exercise and getting oxygen into the lungs is a vital stimulus for children.

But how do you fit it in?

The ten minute shake down

If you follow the Body Coach you’d have seen his daily motivational workouts for kids on YouTube.  They’re free, they’re fun and they’re quick.  Set a time of day to do it and do it as a family, whether in your PJs when you first wake up, the moment you get in from school or even in the kitchen before you start cooking.

Even a short, sharp ten minutes can really help to boost a child’s fitness and get their energy levels up.  It’s also a great natural mood elevator, which is perfect for moody teenagers.

Get your bounce on

Trampoline parks are popping up all over the country.  They’re a great fitness activity and the kids love them, especially teenagers.  You can feel confident as a parent that they’re having fun, but also getting a great workout.  Perfect for a Friday night treat after school and an hour tablet/console-free.  Plus the teens won’t even realise they’re working out, they’ll be having too much fun.

School transport

Most teenagers have to get some form of transport to school, so a different approach is needed.

While PE lessons do increase and senior schools are naturally bigger, which means they walk for longer in the day, it’s still not enough.  To encourage a bit more exercise, see if there’s a bus stop further away to catch the bus from, or if you pick them up in the car, choose a pick-up point a bit further away from the school.

Is it possible for them to bike rather than take the bus? The commute to school is effectively free time, so use it well and encourage as much exercise as you can in these times.

Motivation

The biggest stumbling block with exercise is motivation. As a parent you have to spend so much of your time encouraging them to do things, that exercise can seem like a push too far.  However, if you can lead by example and include exercise in your daily lives as much as possible it can make it easier on the whole family.  A weekly bike ride, walking to the shops rather than taking the car, a family gym membership.  These all help to increase exercise and add in some valuable bonding time with your teen.

Most gyms will now offer a family rate, allowing your teens to use the gym, swim or take classes for themselves.  This is a great way for them to feel independent when they want to, but also feel part of a team when doing group activities, and part of the family when playing tennis, badminton or even golf.

We’re all time poor, but exercise is a vital part of any child’s life. Lead by example and show them how it’s done (and it will help you to stay fit and trim too).