Body and Brain Workout for Our Next Generation

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This post is originally from 2015 when the kiddos were younger. Fast forward to today, and the message still remains so true: Our children are our future. However, with the fast paced lifestyles we all live, many of our kids are growing up without understanding health, nutrition, or the importance of physical exercise. Not to mention, we also need to help them understand mental and emotional health, not just physical health. If our children are our future, we need to set them up to thrive as they grow!

Here’s the catch: Nutrition can be an extremely complicated topic to teach. Most adults still struggle to fully understand how our macronutrients affect our bodies. Instead, many focus on crash diets and instant satisfaction.

You guys, we need to keep it fun and simple These lessons are something we can and should teach in our homes as little pieces in our daily activities. If you’re not convinced yet, consider the fact that research has shown the neurological benefits of physical activity before learning:

  • Increased attention span
  • Increased memory
  • Increased learning

By removing physical activity from our day and our children’s day, we aren’t allowing them to just play: to run, jump, push, pull, and climb, for not just physical gains in fitness, but for mental and intellectual growth as well.

Activities to teach kids how to be healthy for life

There can be fun and effective new ways to teach our kids how to be healthy for life. If you are a parent or educator, and you want to start weaving brain-and-body work into your kids’ daily regimen, try out this awesome exercise-driven nutrition game.

The name of this game is My Favorite Food. It is best when played on a court (basketball court, tennis court, etc.) or in a court-sized space (small field, etc.). Here’s how to play:

  • In each of the four corners of the court are 3 colored papers representing one main food category: Protein, Carbs, Veggies, or Fats. NOTE: veggies are also technically “carbs,” but it is important that we teach them the categories of carbs to understand the impact on their health and performance.
  • In the middle of the court, are four large lists (laminated) of different food categories (16 sheets in total). Below is an example of how it’s broken down. NOTE: We typically start with the types of “base foods” listed below because they occur in nature and are minimally processed. Feel free to add extra or remove foods as you wish. Make it your own!
  • The colored pieces of paper will also have a workout challenge on the back (scroll down to see how this works).

Protein:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Protein Shakes
  • Soy

Carbs:

  • Fruit
  • Cereal
  • Grains
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Potatoes

Veggies:

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Kale
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Squash

Fats:

  • Nuts
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Cheese
  • Avocado
  • Oil
  • Peanut Butter

Here’s how to play:

  1. The kids start huddled in a circle in the center court. If someone crosses the line, they are “out.” Among the players, one is chosen to be the “FitMaster.” This is where cooperation comes into play.
  2. To start the game, the “FitMaster” calls out a favorite food from the list by saying “My Favorite Food is…”, calling out a food from the list.
  3. Immediately the kids in the center must reference the lists to find which category it is in.
  4. Once the food is identified on this list, they then run to that corner. If you want to add a little more challenge, have the kids bear crawl instead of running.
  5. The first three kids to grab a correctly colored piece of paper turn the paper over to reveal a workout challenge like this:
    a. Do 5 leap frogs
    b. Do 10 jumping jacks
    c. Do 7 burpees
  6. Each of the three kids with the papers then instructs the class to do each of their challenges.
  7. On one paper in each category, it says “FitMaster.” That person then gets to pick their favorite food.
  8. And the game starts over again.

Once you get into the flow of it, this game is a blast. Feel free to make it your own, and make sure you’re having fun too. This type of activity will incentivize your kids to learn the basics of nutrition when it comes to whole foods, and they’ll be getting in play and physical activity. It also teaches cooperation as the kids communicate to keep the game flowing, and that’s a win-win in our house. What do you do to encourage play, physical health, and nutrition in your family? Share below. We’re always looking for new ways to change it up!

xo,

Related reading:

Building Healthy Habits: Kids’ Fitness at Every Age
Screen Time Killing + Boredom Busting Workout for Kids of All Ages (even 40+!)
How We Teach Our Kids (And Ourselves) To Be Brave
Helping Kids Get—and Stay—Active
Fun with Food: A Powell Pack Guide to Healthy Habits

8 Responses

  1. Hi.. I have a problem …i weight 175pounds and i mesure 5 foot 1.
    I’m not very fat… I got some … But im working out … So i got muscle. 🙂
    Lately i’ve been working out more because i was getting weight … But now its been a month and i clearly losing fat but on the scale, i did not lose even 1pound ? Please help me what going on ?
    Please help me ..its depressing
    Thanks !

    1. Hi Alexia: You could be replacing fat with muscle. Have you been taking your measurements? How’s your nutrition program? That’s a huge key to weight loss. If you’re interested, check out the nutrition part of Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program here: http://heidpowell.net/2713. It’s an awesome program – you can do this!

  2. This is such a great idea I am a personal trainer and I have been wanting to start a class for children I think this would be a great game to play I have been doing a lot of research on how to get kids motivated and make it fun. In this world filled with video games and ipads kids are getting lazy I see extremely obese kids everyday and it breaks my heart. Thanks for the nutritional game.

  3. As a mom, and as a middle school cross country coach, I really feel this huge challenge facing our kids. This is really similar to a game that I play with my cross country kids, but I love the idea of aging in nutritional education! Thank you cooing sharing such a great idea!

  4. Thanks for this idea!! I love it!! I am going to teach this game to my Girl Scout troop, I think they will enjoy it. 🙂

  5. Do you give your kids protein powder? Do you make the same food you and the kids or different? Thank you so much this topic was on my mind lately. I have daughters 2 & 5 and both my husband and I are obese. I never want them to live as I did. Just got your book so starting carb cycling just trying to fit family meals.

    1. Hi Jennifer: It’s always best to discuss any dietary supplements with your kids’ healthcare teams first. And Chris and Heidi’s kids eat pretty much what they do – always protein first too, with some added fat on those high carb days. Here’s another post you might like: https://heidipowell.net/7986/funwithfood/. 🙂

  6. I co-teach at a daycare, working with 4-year-olds, and my part of the day’s activities are music and movement and gross motor. My kids dance, jump, run, count steps, and do yoga (they love cat-cow and are getting pretty good at sun salutations) on any given day both through organized games and activities and free play. I try to model healthy living as best as I can so that with the time I have with them I can hopefully change a few lives for the better.

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