Keeping kids active is becoming more of a challenge as technology advances. The lure of HDTVs, video games and tablets are distracting our children from getting out and being active, and as parents we need to be proactive. There are many other reasons daily exercise can be difficult, such as school events and extracurricular activities, but you must make play and exercise a priority.

If strong muscles and bones aren’t enough motivation, consider the weight control benefits. Studies show that play and exercise can significantly decrease the risk of a child developing type 2 diabetes. All of this healthy activity will pay off immediately and also build a foundation for a lifetime of health and fitness.

Are you looking for suggestions on how to encourage your child to exercise? Here are eight ways to get your child off the couch and stay interested and challenged with play and exercise:

Schedule Time for Play

If your child has a busy schedule full of music lessons, after-school programs and homework, finding time for play may be harder than you think. However, a busy schedule is no excuse to be unfit. Be sure to schedule at least an hour of play per day and even more on the weekend.

Limit TV and Computer Time

Video games, television shows and computers fascinate many children, but it’s important to keep this idle time to a minimum. The startling graphics and sounds captivate young minds, so it is important for the adults to unplug them from this electronic stimulus and get them up and active.

Provide Active Toys

It’s no secret children love playing with toys. Toys for both indoor and outdoor play have been around for decades and the industry continues to create new and fun ways for kids to get exercise while playing. Whether it’s chasing each other around with water guns, kicking around a ball or doing gymnastics on a tumbling mat, there are hundreds of active toys to provide outdoor and indoor exercise.

Set an Example

Children who see their parents being active and enjoying it are far more likely to be active as well. It is common knowledge that most kids pattern themselves off the behavior of their parents. Do them a favor and set a positive example by being a fitness role model.

Join the Fun

Nothing will motivate your child more than Mom or Dad being their playmate. Even if you just throw a ball around or play tag, your children want to spend time with you, and when you play with them they won’t even view it as planned exercise.

Include Friends and Neighbors

Joining local playgroups of friends and neighbors will give your child a chance to socialize and exercise all at once. Weekend trips to the park can be supplemented by rotating play dates during the week. Adults often find playgroups useful because they can meet other parents, share parenting ideas and divide babysitting duties.

Assign Chores Regularly

Chores may be a useful tool for teaching responsibility but they can also be a form of exercise. Helping to rake the leaves, wash the car and clean around the house will keep them physically active while learning the meaning of hard work. This is another clever way to disguise exercise.

Give Positive Feedback 

Few things are more powerful than the encouraging words of a parent. A parent’s praise style has a direct effect on how the child will handle both challenges and failure, so positive reinforcement has many benefits. “Process praise”—praising a child’s efforts and actions—can do wonders for their self esteem and motivate your child to play more and enjoy doing it.

 About the author:

David Reeves is Marketing Manager of Playland Inc. in Carrollton, GA. Playland Inc., is a total solutions manufacturer and supplier to many industries, supplying outdoor play equipment to churches, schools, and day care centers. It has developed into the only company in its field to offer direct to all of its customers, the ability to purchase outdoor playgrounds, shelters, shade, indoor playgrounds, water slides and site amenities.