3 Tips for Increasing Involvement in Youth Fitness
For kids, summer offers a much needed break from the daily responsibility of sitting in class and doing homework. Too often, however, this means more screen time. Nearly 80% of children fail to meet daily exercise requirements.
Recent trends are promising, as the under 18 age group has had the largest growth of any age segment in terms of fitness involvement. The warm weather and freedom of summer offer the perfect opportunity to build upon this growth.
For youth fitness level to increase, appeals need to be made to interests and lifestyles of children. A good place to start would be to keep in mind offering a wide variety of activities, incorporating games, and capitalizing on kids’ existing interests.
Variety Keeps Kids Engaged
Kids crave stimulation. A majority of children’s dislike for school stems from monotony and boredom. In crafting a fitness plan for children, variety is a must. It is much harder for kids to stay engaged in a typical youth fitness routine, so the more activities planned for them to take part in, the better. A one week plan could vary from swimming to biking to running to aerobics. Increasing the number of activities will keep restless kids excited and interested in a program.
There is long term benefit to variety, as well. It’s beneficial to sample all areas of fitness than it is to specialize, especially when children are young. While early specialization can quickly develop a particular skill set, it can also lead to burnout, overuse, and lack of development in multiple areas.
Early generalization and variation helps to develop an all-around skill set while also exposing kids to multiple areas. Experience in more areas of fitness can help a child build better character. This could also aids kids in discovering more interests. So, instead of devoting a full summer to soccer training, kids could try to mix numerous activities.
Gamification Targets Youthful Tendencies
As a whole, the fitness industry is leaning into gamification at unprecedented rates. Children are spending more time playing video games than ever before. Carrying the attractive elements of gaming into fitness will make it a more familiar and enjoyable experience for children. The competitive drive kids gain from video games correlates well to a sports mentality.
A key positive of gamifying a fitness program is the influence of levels and high scores. Video games are addicting in part due to the need to beat a high score. When a level is reached, the goal becomes reaching the next. If a high score is set, they are eager to beat it. Those attitudes complement a gamified fitness routine, as it encourages repeated involvement and personal investment in improvement. Kids have the extensive energy to continually attempt at bettering their scores, meaning more time spent on the activity.
What does gamification for youth fitness look like in practice? On a simple level, it can be structuring fitness activities in competitive formats, such as swimming relays or biking time trials. If the technology is available, incorporating measurements like heart rate or calories burned will visualize progress.
Just as in video games, the presence of numbers on a leaderboard will motivate kids to be the best they can be. Gamification is continually growing, and expanding it to appeal to the generation most familiar with gaming will spark increased participation in youth fitness.
Capitalize on Existing Interests
Gamification is enticing to younger ages because it is built around their current interest in video games and competition. Infusing more pre-existing passions into a new fitness approach will make it an easier sell to children.
Some have already done so, as gym in Britain gained press for their Fortnite dance class. The instructor recognize the extreme investment in the game, and realized he could translate that into an active experience. Others have tapped into the entertainment culture by introducing themed class sessions where kids dress up as favorite characters.
To get kids excited to exercise, use what they are already excited about as a selling point. The best way to get someone to try something new is to take what they already love doing and infuse it with that new experience.
As overall participation in youth fitness programs grow, the number of younger people not exercising remains high. These three areas focus efforts on integrating characteristics of the young generation into functional fitness plans. In varying offerings, gamifying, and finding inspiration in cultural events, parents and fitness aficionados can make kids eager to exercise.
The more active a child’s family is, the more likely the child will be active too. Establishing an early focus on fitness and well being is an important step in creating a more active world.