Convincing Your Preteen to Exercise

How do you get your tween (or tween) to exercise, when hanging out at the mall with friends is the order of the day? The answer lies in how you introduce exercise to your child. Try to do the following:

  • Make it fun, not hard. Let your child choose the activity that you will do together and go on the journey. Consider a few suggestions, so you don’t spend half an hour trying to figure out how to spend your half-hour workout session together.


  • Make it cool. The definition of “kool” depends on your child, so ask.


  • Involve as many of your tween friends as possible.


  • Encourage participation in school, church, and community sports teams. You will likely find a team that plays soccer, basketball, tennis, soccer, hockey, and any number of other sports in your area. Teens typically enjoy organized sports a lot, meet other kids their age, develop athletic skills, and figure out how to work as a team.

Add exercise by leaving the car behind
If you have a young child, you probably spend a lot of time playing chauffeur for your child and her friends. An exceptional way to help your child become healthier is to replace walking or riding a bike with many tasks that require a lot of cars. Going to dance lessons? Hop on your bike and ride two miles to the studio. Heading to the library or library? Stroll there and back. If you live too far away to walk or ride comfortably, consider putting bikes in your car, park a mile or two away, and pedal while doing errands together.
Whether you’re heading to school, the park, or a friend’s house, use the car as a last resort. When you’re driving, park as far from the building as possible to give you and Wink a chance to stretch your legs a bit. Make sure she understands that you’re not only the world’s least awesome dad by parking the car in one corner, but this exercise is important to you, and you want to use your legs to beat you whenever possible.

Cut back on TV and video games
After a hard day at work, you just want to sink into the chair, pick up the remote, and pull out the vegetables, right? Well maybe. Certainly, taking some time to relax every day is absolutely essential in life. But spending hours in front of the TV is often more of a habit than a necessity, and your kids will follow in your lead. Watching TV and playing video games is fun – there’s no doubt about it – but so is playing a game of mini-basketball, walking in town, playing touch football, biking, and climbing trees. If you can limit the amount of time you spend in front of the TV – and we’re talking about really limiting it to, say, half an hour a day – you can unlock precious hours playing and talking as a family, finish homework, read quietly, etc.
Not surprisingly, as TV viewing increases, so does obesity levels.