When kids are young, it’s so easy to get them to exercise — it’s all  play! You take them to the park, you sign them up for swimming lessons, or you go for a walk.

As they get older, and more independent, it’s a little more challenging.

For kids who play a sport, the job is much easier. They go to practice, and the coach — if it isn’t you — has them run laps, do drills and scrimmage.

For kids who don’t play sports, it can be a struggle. We live in a different world than I grew up in. When I was a kid, we were outside running around, riding bikes, climbing trees and burning off tons of energy.

Today, we are more cautious — not necessarily a bad thing — and our kids are getting fat.

That’s not good.

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s 2013 survey of American kids, 13 percent of South Carolina high schoolers are obese or have too much body fat. Overall in the U.S., the percentage of kids ages 6 – 11 who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to 18 percent in 2012.

Our kids are not getting enough exercise.

Sure, they may have physical education time at school, but that’s usually one day a week in elementary schools. At the middle school level, they may have a daily PE class, but only for half the school year.

We need to get them moving on a regular basis. So what do we do? As busy parents with busy kids, how do we get intentional about making sure our kids are exercising?

Set up an exercise station. At our house, this is a family exercise station. There’s a basket near the TV with a yoga ball, jump rope, free weights, exercise bands and yoga mats. A small trampoline is nearby. My kids will often jump on the trampoline while they’re watching TV, grab a 5 pound weight to do arm exercises or sit on the yoga ball and bounce on it.

You lead, they’ll follow. Admittedly, I like to work out alone, heading out for a jog on a Saturday morning  before the kiddos get up. Last weekend, my youngest woke up and saw me pass by the house as I took laps around the block, and he ran out to join me. He also loves doing exercise videos with me. If I mention that I plan to get on the treadmill, my middle son will set up the treadmill for me and then roll out a yoga mat next to me to do floor exercises with an exercise band or free weights.

Try out different sports. We have a whole collection of barely worn cleats. It’s annoying. But it’s because my kids have been encouraged to try out different sports to find what they like. Fortunately, there are some great resources for used equipment in the area.

I played softball as a kid, so I tried veering my boys in the direction of baseball, and one tried it for a couple of seasons. Ultimately, he decided football looked more interesting.

Go with it.

Most importantly, don’t push your children to participate in activities you love. Encourage them to find what clicks, and they are more likely to end up with a life-long love of whatever it is they decide to embrace.

Talk to Jenna

Jenna Kochenauer is a news anchor on WORD 106.3 FM radio. Follow her @JennaOnTheAir. Read her blog at

Read or Share this story: