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Are your little ones glued to Dora and Peppa 24/7? Is it impossible to prise the iPad from their hands without tears and tantrums?

We all know how important exercise is, but sometimes putting principle into practice is easier said than done.

Here’s how to get them excited about the real world again, and get their bodies into some more healthy activities and exercise.

1. Take part yourself

Expecting kids to just go and play in the garden by themselves, particularly if you have an only child, isn’t going to happen. They want company and socialisation.

Set an example and motivate them by joining in yourself, whether that’s kicking a football around or helping them climb a tree.

2. Get wheels

Many kids hate walks but love rides. Small children have surprising stamina when they are enjoying themselves: you may find your two-year-old can easily manage a mile or two if they’re having fun. You can pick up working scooters, bikes and trikes for a few dollars on eBay or elsewhere.

3. Bring Peppa outside

Not literally, but get children outdoors more easily by suggesting they “play Dora” or “play Fireman Sam” by recreating the TV characters’ adventures themselves. If Peppa has been building a fort, or helping Grandpa Pig do the gardening, exploit that influence.

4. Go old fashioned

Kids played outside in olden times out of necessity, and there’s a host of vintage games that can still hold great fun for modern generations. Hopscotch (you can easily buy pavement chalk), cat’s cradle, skipping ropes, hoop spinning.

5. Set a scavenger Hunt

Just because it’s no longer Easter doesn’t mean you can’t hide rewards around the garden. You can combine it with learning to read by leaving written directions on Post-it notes (try diagrams and visual clues for younger kids).

6. Urban adventure

The excitement is in the journey not the destination. So try walking rather than driving to the local park. Arm your offspring with explorers’ equipment such a “collection bag” for interesting leaves and twigs.

Challenging children to find the reddest leaf, or the most interesting coloured leaf, adds an element of competition that distracts them from the distance covered.

7. Try technology

Children spend up to seven hours a day using entertainment media, so consider turning this addiction to your advantage. There are a wealth of outdoor play and fitness gadgets aimed at kids, such as GeoPalz or Zamzee, pedometers that allow them to earn reward points through exercise.

8. Dancing games

If they’re hooked on Xbox or PlayStation, invest in a game pad and a copy of Dance Dance Revolution and have them enjoy a vigorous workout in your living room. Many schools have invested in electronic dancing systems to combat childhood obesity. “Machine Dance” has even been registered as an official sport in Norway.

If all else fails, you can try bribing them. Knowing there’s an ice-cream shop at the end of the 30-minute neighbourhood walk may be enough to motivate them to put their shoes on. Associating the outdoors with treats and enjoyment will serve them well in the long run.

  • Outdoor play and activities are a lot of fun.

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  • A great article :) Thankyou for sharing.

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  • loving the idea of bringing the characters outside for play time!

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  • Do it, do it, do it! Walk or play with the dog, shoot hoops, backyard cricket… we do it every day.

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  • Geocaching is an awesome activity to do with kids.

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  • Great advice here. My children all love outdoor play, and when my nephew comes to visit, he’s too distracted by the different toys to worry about the TV. He’s quickly learned our house rules about screen time, and enjoys following my children around the house or helping me in the garden. Old-school is tried and tested, and fun across generations. Love watching my grandmother (89) playing dolls with my girls, or hopping on the swing with my children – can’t quite use the skipping rope now though.

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  • Do parents have no idea how much damage they may doing to their child/childrens’ eyes? and possibly brain too? We were told by an opthamologist not to let our little ones sit too close to a TV. What happened to card games like Snap with pictures on them, jigsaw puzzles with large pieces, board games etc when the weather was bad or after tea at night?? We drew hopscotch on our cement path with ordinary chalk and re-did it when the chalk wore off. If people have small backyards, they can take their kids for a walk, to a playground or a reserve, pack some snacks or just bottles of water in case any of them get thirsty. Our kids love that. In fact one ours asked to do exactly that last weekend.

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  • We always take Thomas outside and that helps us

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  • We never had a phone when I was growing up..so it was jump on the bike and peddle to my friends, hang out for a while, mostly out side and peddle back home again. Times have certainly changed.
    Your article was great, plenty of ideas for getting the youngens out doors. thanks.

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  • Some great ideas for things to do with the kids. Thanks for sharing!

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  • good tips , making them play outside is getting tougher for us now.

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  • We have no Xbox, play station and limit TV in our house. For presents they get things to do outside!

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  • that is great..bribes work and they can cut out some of that attitude lol


    • thanks for the great post. my kids have the games so they love playing outside and learn about balance

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  • Thanks again for sharing these tips; have been implementing these tips. :)

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  • Thanks for this interesting article with some great tips and thanks for sharing them.

    Reply

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