DETROIT – With no school, no after-school activities and no sports teams to play on, keeping our children active can be a real challenge.
Parents are faced with yet another challenge -- how do you make sure your children stay active? It’s not easy, but one expert is sharing what works for her family.
“It’s a problem,” said certified personal trainer Laine Nakfoor. “80% of kids ages six to 17 don’t get enough exercise -- and that’s without a pandemic.”
Nakfoor makes sure her children stay active with a homemade obstacle course drawn with chalk on the sidewalk. It may look like hopscotch, but there’s more going on.
“My kids love it. They get really into this and you combine a bunch of physical fitness activities to make a really long obstacle course down the sidewalk,” Nakfoor said. “There can be hopscotch, there can be bear crawl, crab walk, long jump, shuffling -- anything that you want to do, you can add into this course and the kids love it because it lets them be creative.”
Nakfoor, a mother of four, has some simple solutions for making exercise really fun for children.
In addition to the obstacle course, she also gets her children moving by mapping out a scavenger hunt.
“There a lot of great templates online you can go on and just print them out,” Nakfoor said. "For example, fire hydrants, American flag in front of someone’s house, a certain color of flowers, certain kind of car -- and then you go for these walks in your neighborhood and you look for these items and the kids get really into it when they have a list. They get pretty determined. They don’t want to miss anything. Before you know it, you’ve been walking a mile or two, 20 minutes 30 minutes, because they want to get everything on that list.
Hiking can be another great option.
“We’re blessed to live in Southeast Michigan where we have beautiful trails, beautiful parks, and there’s something about kids when you put them in nature. Sticks and stones and dirt and trees, by nature they just get really into it,” Nakfoor said. “They like the trees. They want to look at the bugs and pick things up and it’s just so much good gross motor movement. Take advantage of the parks. Take advantage of the trails, and whether you have real little ones or you have older ones, this is something you can all go out, do.”
A little family friendly competition can help motivate them to get moving.
“The kids helped me come up with this one. We do 20 miles in 20 days. They wanted to see if -- as a family -- we can walk 20 miles in 20 days. It’s setting a goal, so it makes them more likely to stick to it," Nakfoor said. “The first day, I think we walked about five miles because they were so excited to do this.”
Nakfoor said her children get really excited to see how far they can go in one day. She also recommends thinking back to your own childhood and the games you liked to play.
“Red light, green light, freeze tag, hide and seek -- really simple games they don’t cost anything. They’re not hard, you can do them with kids of all ages," Nakfoor said. "These are really great things you can just incorporate outside and then you will hear all on board or it’s too hot because they’re excited to do these right as they don’t think of it as exercise so having fun.”