Deb Lowther: Family on the Run


11 Ways to Get Kids Moving ...on the Cheap!

Get Kids Active Without Signing up for Every Sports Team Going

Getting Kids to be Active - on a Budget |

Getting your kids to be active is easy if you have an unlimited budget and they are interested in being signed up for every sport going. Soccer, football, dance, gymnastics, basketball, hockey, swimming are all fabulous sports for kids and teach many important skills, but there is more to being active than paying for organized sports.

Signing them up for endless activities is not only expensive, but may also be teaching kids that the only time you are active is when you have organized sports to attend.

The key to active living is to incorporate it into your everyday life and make things like a nature hike, bike rides and pick up soccer at the park totally normal occurrences. It doesn't mean the kids will be jumping for joy every time you suggest a family basketball game in the driveway, but be persistent.

Truth is, our active family-on-the-run doesn't happen by itself. I drag my family - whining and complaining most times - to the hiking trail or exploring a frozen lake, because I know they are going to have fun when we get there and the memories will stay with them long after the complaining has faded.

Encouraging active kids doesn’t need a big budget, in fact, I think the importance of an active lifestyle is better learned if you spend nothing at all!

How to Inspire Active Kids on a Budget

So Much is Free

Free is our favorite kind of activity. The most fun is usually found in our own back yard, off the beaten path or during an unexpected adventure in the rain or snow. The best part is that these free activities usually create the best memories, and  we all know, the memories are priceless!

As A Family . . .

  1. Picnic in the Park – grab a blanket, some muffins and a ball and see what happens.
  2. Hiking for Hidden Treasure – geocaching is fun treasure hunting for all ages using a free (or paid) app on your smart phone. Everyone loves hidden treasures.
  3. Waterfall Finds – look up local maps and hit the trails to find small community waterfalls
  4. Creek Play – a pair of rubber boots and a plastic container is all you need for hours of creek fun.
  5. Check out Local festivals –watch you local paper for community festivals like a Kite Festival or Music in the Park
  6. Stroll the Farmers market – learn about local farms and where our food comes from and support local farmers
  7. Celebrate Actively– start a tradition of biking with Mom for ice cream on Mothers Day, mini putt for Dad on Fathers Day, collecting Fall leaves before turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, and take that Egg Hunt deep into the forest for Easter fun.
  8. In winter - Ice skate on frozen ponds or free outdoor community rinks.
  9. Play pick-up hockey or basketball in the street with the neighbourhood kids (and you join in the fun too).
  10. Enter Community Race events together – a colour run is a 5km event more about fun than run,  a virtual run allows you to set the race and pace while still getting a medal finish, and community MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) runs provides a family friendly race environment for as little as $15 per run/walker.
  11. Find a corn maze to walk through, a farm to help out at, a ski hill to walk up in the summer time or a beach to play volleyball on. Find your sense of adventure and look for free fun around every corner, then go and explore.

The key is to join the kids and create opportunities for the family to be active together, and make it a regular occurrence. You will get resistance, you will get kids who would rather play video games or watch ‘just one more episode’ of that show, but insist on active family time. 

I can guarantee that once they get out there they will have fun, they will explore, they will be kids and run, jump, laugh and play.  You will create some fantastic memories of a family being active together and the complaining from the couch will be long forgotten.

 RELATED: 30 Gifts for Kids to Inspire Outdoor Play