Promoting A Healthy Family Lifestyle: Be Active
With the nationwide obesity epidemic being front page news and decreasing school programs and safety concerns at all time highs, it is more important than ever for parents to “get involved” and make exercise and fitness an integral part of their family’s life.
Kids who participate in regular fitness activities, be it in a structured exercise curriculum of an indoor gym program, or as a member of a sports team, acquire the skills, confidence and positive self-image needed to become healthy young adults.
Just as parents guide and monitor their children’s academic health, parents need to take responsibility to initiate healthy habits for their children’s physical health and well-being. Following are tips for families to exercise together to promote a healthy lifestyle:
30 Everyday Things to do with Your Children
to Promote a Healthy Lifestyle:
- Walk together. Pencil it into everyone’s busy schedules - family walking time. Every day/night, or even once or twice a week. 30 minutes to 1 hour. Even if it’s just around the block.
- If possible, walk your child to or from school. It’s a great time for exercise, and connecting with your child.
- Play with your child, at the playground or in the backyard, throw and catch, tag, or hopscotch.
- Go for a bike ride together
- Build. Whether it be a sand castle or a mud pie. Both are great for sensory integration, and relaxation.
- Take the stairs whenever possible.
- Let your children see you exercising.
- Play basketball, play soccer – any sport!
- Walk the dog –together.
- Stretch. Put on some soft, or playful music, and touch your toes, stretch your legs, sit and stretch your spine. Great time to talk to your child. Connect.
- Go swimming.
- Wintertime: Build a snowman, have a snowball fight, go sled riding.
- Rake leaves and jump in the piles.
- Exercise when doing chores:
a. Wash or put away the dishes. Create an assembly line, turn off the TV and put on the stereo.
b. Fold laundry. Again, turn off the TV. and crank the music. Make it a fun, family time.
c. Sweep or vacuum the house; mop.
- Have a water balloon fight. Outside, please.
- Dance – get the whole family moving.
- Go rollerblading. (Don’t forget the safety equipment)
- Jump rope.
- Paint. A fence, an old chair, a box, a picture … get a big piece of flat wood and use your imagination.
- Carry the groceries, from the car to the house
- Make a movie. Give your kids the camera, you can be the director, and make up a story or music video – with lots of action.
- Hold a silly joke telling session. Laughing really hard builds stomach muscles!
- Give the kids a disposable camera and see how many different types of creatures they can photograph, outside.
- Create a family scavenger hunt.
- Go to My Gym.
- Go to places that require you to walk a lot (zoo, amusement park, mall, etc.)
- Make exercise a game (who can touch their toes 10 times)?
- Teach your kids about good nutrition. Cook, and eat, healthy meals together.
- Carry healthy snacks with you while you are running errands or driving carpool. This keeps you from stopping at the drive-thru for a quick snack.
a. Healthy snacks to take with you during the day: raisins, cutup apples and cheese, yogurt, almonds. Pick snacks that are low in sugar and complex carbohydrates.
- Grocery shopping tips:
a. Have a healthy snack before grocery shopping. That will curb the appetite and urge to get “impulse” items and you child won't be crying out for something if their tummy is full.
b. Let them push the cart if the store provides the small carts for children. It gives them a sense of contributing and allows them to walk with you.
In over twenty years of experience, we have found that attitudes toward health and fitness begin forming in a child’s early years and that fun, variety and excitement are crucial elements in motivating youngsters. Age-appropriate structured activities help kids gain strength, balance, coordination, fine and gross motor proficiency, agility, flexibility and social skills. Children delight in getting to know and control their own bodies. And as an added bonus, the thrill of accomplishment from achieving a physical task builds self-esteem and confidence - characteristics that carry over into all aspects of a child's life.
Matthew Hendison, a fitness expert, has competed in and coached ice hockey, baseball and tennis. Matthew is the Executive Vice President and serves on the Board of Directors of My Gym Enterprises.