Exercising As a Family is Key
One of the best things you can do is to help instill healthy practices in the people around you, especially your children. Science has shown that it is incredibly important to teach them healthy practices at an early age in order to set them up for a happy, healthy life. Here are some ways to do just that by exercising as a family! More importantly, just have fun together!
Exercising as a family: Get started
Weight problems are a scary trend in the United States. With nearly a third of young adults struggling with obesity, we have to start attacking unhealthy lifestyles and habits when they first start: in childhood.
Since the activity levels we learn as children tend to stay with us as adults, it’s more important than ever for parents to encourage their children to be active.
Of course, children tend to learn from what they see their parents and other adult role models doing, and not necessarily what you tell them to do.
Every parent knows how readily their children notice if they say one thing and do another, not to mention how much they resent having to do something they don’t like (such as eating their vegetables) when their parents don’t.
This means that in order to make a lasting impression on your child’s activity level, you need to model the behavior you want them to learn. In short, you need to exercise with them.
This doesn’t mean you should take your kids to the gym, though; rather, it means finding fun activities you can do together as a family.
How Much Activity Do Kids Need?
Kids need at least an hour of active play every single day. They used to get this or close to it in school, but schools are increasingly cutting back on recess time and physical education programs to accommodate demands for better academics.
This leaves the majority of physical activity to come from appropriate equipment in the school playground. This is why such equipment is highly important for kids.
It also leaves it up to parents to encourage kids to get enough exercise at home.
Make It Fun
The best way to encourage your children to exercise more is to make it fun. To avoid making it seem like a chore, focus on the activity and the time spent together as a family, rather than the obligation to exercise.
And even if you are doing chores together, you can make it fun by turning on music, singing, dancing, or make a race or game out of it.
Suggestions for Families Exercising Together
Still stumped on what activities to do with your kids to get them excited about turning off the TV, computer, and video games? Here are a few ideas that will help you start exercising as a family:
- Hit the park before the books. Instead of heading right home to work on homework and then watch TV or play video games until bedtime, pack a snack and take the kids to the park after school — they can eat and play before heading home to hit the books.
- Play games in the backyard. Most childhood games are easy to play and don’t require any special equipment. Play tag, hide-and-seek, or 1-2-3 tag if it’s dark out. Catch, jumping rope, and Frisbee are other fun games you can play in the backyard together.
Start a sports team. You don’t have to be an expert player to coach a kids’ sports team. Start a team for kids around your children’s ages — you’ll give the whole family a chance to be a part of something exciting.
- Spend a morning or afternoon every weekend doing something together as a family. Make this a big deal — explore hiking trails in your area, plan a family bike ride, go roller skating together, or do something else you aren’t able to do during the week because of time constraints.
- Hold a family dance-off. Even if it’s dark or cold outside, you can still have some fun together. Evenings and bad weather days are perfect for a family dance-off, for example: Move the furniture out of the way, crank up the music, and show off your moves to one another.
- Engage everyone in doing active chores together as a family. Walking the dog, gardening, and cleaning the house are chores that require kids to get up and move around, and when done together, can actually be pretty fun. In addition to the exercise, gardening and helping with other household projects also gives kids the satisfaction of knowing that they’ve helped accomplish something that benefits the whole family.
- Make the video games work for you. If you can’t beat them, join them, right? It can be incredibly hard to convince some kids to reduce their screen time. If this is your kid, challenge them to a dance-off in Just Dance, or find another Wii game that will allow you to be active together.
Families are busier than ever, and some days it may seem like carving out a whole hour for physical activity as a family is a tall order. Part of not thinking of it as a chore is recognizing that some days it won’t be possible.
While an hour a day of active play is the official recommendation, raising your children to be active, healthy adults should be your goal.
Start exercising as a family and reaping the rewards!