How to Motivate Children Ages 10-12 to Exercise

Kids are not too different from adults when it comes to physical activity, yet the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) reports that about 50% of boys and slightly fewer than 34% of girls are sufficiently fit. When children are unfit, they are at risk for cardiovascular and chronic diseases and are prone to psychological disorders. Parents who encourage their children to exercise on a daily basis can help their kids keep weight and weight-related problems under check and help prevent some diseases, such as cancer. 

Exercises for Older, School-Age Kids 

Older school-age children have usually gained basic proficiency and are more coordinated than younger children. This means that they can do things better and with more accuracy. If a kid is interested in basketball for example, they will not throw the ball aimlessly but will try to shoot and get the ball to go through the hoop. Older kids can also understand rules better. Regardless of the exercises the kids engage in, it is important that they enjoy them. If your children are not enjoying the activities at hand, it’s a good idea to change things up and find activities that you and your family can all enjoy together. Give your child options, and let your child choose some activities they would like to try as well. You do not want negative feelings about exercising to keep the child from participating in activities. 

Help Kids Discover What They Can Do

For kids, it is important to consider their interests, talents, capabilities, and body types in order to find the right type of exercise for them. Some kids have a mild temperament and it could be a challenge getting them involved in certain exercises. Parents must be willing to consider what a kid will be more successful at and what might be too intense. It helps if parents can help the child discover what they like best and then incorporate this in their routine. Some children are non-athletic and are averse to any form of physical exercise. Finding activities these kids are able to comfortably engage in will help them become more interested in exercising. Kids ages 10 to 12 are a bit more sensitive than younger children about what they can or cannot do successfully.

Make Competition a Motivator

At ages 10 to 12, some kids are very competitive and this can be used as a motivating factor. While it might not be a good idea to get the kids to compete against each other, parents can make it a friendly contest between them and their children. Kids aged 10 to 12 will usually be highly motivated to exercise if they know that they will be beating their parents. Also, they may be more motivated if they know that they will be rewarded if they defeat their parents. As a result, it will be encouraging if parents can use a rewards system to motivate them to exercise. One way to help kids at this age is to give them gifts that encourage them to engage in physical activities. A good example would be a bicycle, soccer ball or ice skates. Parents can also give kids video games that promote exercising. These video games can help kids continue physical activities that promote fitness. A good example is Zumba Fitness World Party and Gold Gym Dance. As long as parents can find age appropriate video games that encourage physical fitness, kids will take an interest in fitness. 

Provide Kids With Healthy Options 

At ages 10 to 12, kids may no longer be interested in structured sporting or fitness activities. They may want to try different types of exercises such as strength or muscle building. However, these should not be encouraged before puberty because lifting heavy weights can be harmful at this age. Parents can encourage kids to work with stretchy tubes and bands. They can also engage in squats and pushups so that their bodies are strengthened without exposure to the dangers that weights might pose to their bones and joints. It is important to know that kids are at a higher risk of getting injured when they are experiencing growth spurts. These generally occur in the early teenage years. If they lift excess weight or do other exercises not appropriate to their age, the injuries they sustain might be quite substantial. 


When kids remain active, the activity enhances general health. A healthy foundation is essential for children to become healthy adults. While most kids are active by nature, some need encouragement and direction in order for them to develop habits that will become deep rooted. It is essential that kids take part in fitness activities that are appropriate for their age as well as their stage of development. Parents should try to motivate their children to achieve lasting, healthy exercise habits.

Evelyn Murtis Bio