Want to help your kids get in shape this year? It could be easier — and a lot more fun — than you think.

Michael Berry, Chair of the Health and Exercise Science Department at Wake Forest University, says the trick is to think about what kids love to do, and create a fitness routine around that.

“If you say, we’re going to take the kids out for a walk this evening, most kids are going to say, ‘Wait, we have to leave the video games or television?’” Berry said. “Kids like to play games, they like to be engaged, so exercise needs to be something that is sports-oriented or game-oriented.”

Berry suggests:

  1. Try to plan two or three activities per week, this will help you and your child get in the daily recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise.
  2. Use your gaming system to your advantage. Pick a high-energy physical activity that you like Just Dance for Wii, and make it a family competition.
  3. If you can walk to school and work. Its a great time to catch up with your children and gives you a burst of energy early in the morning.
  4. Skip the “pizza and a movie night” with family fitness night at least once a month. Instead plan a healthy dining night that your children can get excited about.
  5. Check out the fitness attractions your city offers like rock-climbing or a trampoline place.
  6. Make a fitness wish list with the kids. Write down every physical activity they’d like to do, and let them choose at least twice a month.
  7. Play like a kid. A half-hour of tag or kickball is good exercise for you and your children.
  8. Play outside. Walking is a great way to get started but for serious fitness you need to take your exercise outside. Go to a park or nature preserve and take a hike.
  9. If you are going to dine out, make dessert a physical activity. Walk to the restaurant from your home, if possible.
  10. Join a league – kickball, basketball, soccer. They all offer opportunities for you and your kids to have fun getting fit.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children need at least an hour a day of physical activity, so don’t be afraid to get creative.

Above all, don’t forget to drink plenty of water — and make sure the kids stay safe.

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