By Kelly Melang, fitness enthusiast and blogger for Forsyth Family magazine

With the era of computer games, video games and the excuses they provide for a sedentary lifestyle, create the desire to exercise in your children by setting the example.  Challenge them to hit the floor with you and show them how to get a few crunches in, don’t sit in front of the television with computers on, get outside and have a real conversation!  Two benefits include great family time and keeping childhood obesity at bay!  Make a commitment to MOVE and reap the benefits!

There are many benefits to regular exercise, especially with children. These include:

-Children who exercise have higher self esteem.
– Children who make exercise a daily part of their routine will carry this into adulthood.
– Exercising regularly in childhood keeps the medical conditions and sickness from sedentary life from becoming a problem as they grow
– Exercise helps children develop fundamental and locomotive skills – running, leaping, hopping, throwing are learned skills not instinctive
– Any scheduled family time together strengthens the family bonds and improves communication

We’re not talking about lining the candy corn down the hallway and challenging them to eat it as quickly as possible, develop an exercise routine that’s FUN. Here are a few basics for FUN exercise for your children:

-Vary the routine, variety is the spice of life especially for children. Start with a simple nature walk in the neighborhood, children love spending time with a parent talking about the different types of trees or trying to spot birds. Include some small isolated exercise (arm curls with dumbbells) at the end of that walk.

-Use friendly competition to hold their attention – even with the tears of defeat, competition is healthy. You can use an exercise calendar and mark the days when children exercise for 30 minutes, using that to get them involved and make it a friendly competition.

– Set it to a tune – show the benefit of beat by doing an exercise to a song with a slower beat then do the same exercise to a song with a faster beat – talk about how their body feels different after the faster exercise, not only did you get them moving, you also got that teaching moment. Or, why not just have a dance party or some “random dancing” (some know what I mean.)

Some fun exercises for the family include:

– East, West, North, South – mark different parts of the yard with N, S, E and W. Point a direction for the children and say “NORTH,” calling the family to that area as quickly as possible. Include a different exercise each time, for example – Hop WEST, or Jump SOUTH! Try to trick them up by pointing one way then saying the other way!

– Our Family Circuit – create a small weight circuit for the family using everyday things. Put chairs out for arm lifts, put your back to the chair and put hands on the seat, lift and lower 5 times.

– Give to Grandma – have the child lay on the floor holding the ball, do a simple sit up lifting the ball acting like they are giving it to their Grandma.

– Soup and Nuts – take coffee cans and fill with nuts or soup cans and have the children practice bicep curls with the cans.

– Runway Walk – place a beanbag on the child’s head and have them walk in a circle without it falling – great for coordination.

You may find that creating this circuit with your children is not only a good exercise for the family, but more fun than actually running the circuit once completed.

What are your tricks on getting the family moving?