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  • Articles and Tips: Parenting

  • Summertime, and the Moving is Easy

  • Do As I Say-And As I Do

    hopscotchSet a good example. If you're active, children will view exercise as part of a normal, healthy lifestyle. "Research shows that both parent support and modeling are related to physical activity levels in children and teens," says Elissa Jelalian, PhD, a child psychologist at Rhode Island Hospital. Besides, sharing active fun is a great way to bond with your kids, and summer's warmer weather allows for many outdoor opportunities.

    Introduce younger children to the active games of your youth, such as kickball, "kick the can" and "red light, green light." And don't forget the classics such as Simon Says and charades. Teach older kids the dances that were popular when you were a teen. Have a treasure hunt in your backyard or neighborhood, and set a time limit so kids will get their hearts pumping.

    Remember, you can up the ante on any activity by making it into a contest with a small prize, exemption from a chore, or privilege as a reward. Even indoor chores on a rainy day can be fun when you make them into the "Housework Olympics" and give each child a ribbon for completion of an "event." Get creative!

    boy lifting weightsIf your kids are "too cool" for family time, encourage them to include their friends, or invest in sports equipment, such as a basketball, or baseball bat and glove, that you know they will use with friends.

    Teens may enjoy going to the gym with you. If you belong to a fitness center or gym, inquire about the minimum age; many facilities allow teens if they work out with an adult. Many offer discounts if you join together. Take advantage of free training sessions that are often included with memberships; an experienced trainer can teach your teen to work out safely.

    To encourage activity in children who are truly fitness-phobic, tie into other interests. Children who like insects or plants might enjoy a hike or bike ride when they are looking for specimens. Children who love animals don't even realize they are burning calories when they run around the zoo or aquarium. And don't forget that a brisk walk to your local library yields a tangible reward: free books and DVDs on any topic at all!

    Recreation on a Budget