Everybody needs to get at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity three times a week in order to stay healthy. Studies have shown that children who are around others who enjoy being active are more likely to participate in physical activity. Encouraging your family to be active together not only promotes a healthy lifestyle, but it is downright fun!
Making sure your family gets the exercise they need can be a tricky proposition, but it helps to set aside time specifically for being active together. Physical activity adds up, so you don’t need to get all your exercise in at once. That means that you can schedule more time on weekends if you find it more difficult to get active during the week. Plan activities for the family where you can get in your activity, even though it may not feel like exercise.
Here are 7 Activities to Keep Your Family Fit and Healthy:
- Take a walk: Whether you do it after school or after dinner, walking is a great way to get active. If you don’t want to go very far, a simple walk around your neighborhood is perfect. On the weekends, though, try visiting a zoo or a nature preserve. These are great places to visit even as the weather gets a little colder, because they combine exercise with education. Make it interactive by bringing a camera to take pictures of your favorite plants and animals!
- Have a dance party: Children, especially young children, love to dance and they are completely unselfconscious about it. Turn on a song that they love and they will start dancing to it. Dancing can be crazy fun and it is a great way to get in exercise as the same time. Host an impromptu dance party by turning up the music and taking turns choosing songs. Or, you can invite over your family and friends. Just make a no-sidelines rule. Everybody has to groove to the music!
- Go to a park: Not only are parks great for playing games, but they tend to be social hubs. Playing on the swings or handlebars are great for children. But adults tend to be a bit too tall for them. Instead, bring something to play with, such as a football, baseball, or frisbee. See if you can start a pick-up game with other park-goers. You’re sure to end up making new friends in the process.
- Play video games: Yes, this article is about getting active, so promoting a video game seems counter-intuitive. However, there are some video games that actually give you a pretty decent workout. I remember playing Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) with my friends in high school and there was a workout setting where you could set a calorie-burning goal. With the Nintendo Wii, Wii U, and XBox Kinect, it is even easier to get exercise while playing a video games. From Wii Sports to Dance Central, there are plenty of options. Active games are a great option for cold or rainy days.
- Go for a bike ride: Like walking, bike rides can be as casual or intense as you prefer. My dad used to take my brother and me for rides down the prairie path or along the Fox River. All I knew at the time was that I was getting to spend time with my family. There was no time for consideration about whether I was exercising, only excitement to see how far we could go before turning back. Sometimes there’s nothing better than pushing yourself to go a bit faster, a bit farther. But a leisurely ride around the block is just as effective.
- No-sit commercial break policy: Autumn has just started and winter is just around the corner, which means the weather will only keep getting colder. Cold weather makes going outside for a walk unappealing and bike riding is all but impossible with snow on the ground. You can still get the family exercising by instating a no-sit commercial policy. Getting up and moving is the goal, whether you choose jumping jacks, push-ups, or walking around the house. Make it a competition, because who doesn’t love to win?
- Do yard work: For many parents and children, yard work is nothing so much as a chore. But what you might not realize is yard work can actually be a great opportunity to combine exercise and fun. My family lives near a church with a gigantic yard that accumulates a ton of leaves every autumn. Nothing motivated me more than the prospect of jumping into piles of leaves. But if I wanted to do that, I hate to rake them into piles myself. Regardless of the size of your yard, you can promote similar situations for your children. Have them rake leaves to jump in them. Or use the snow you’ve all shoveled to have a snowball fights.
These 7 activities are only the start! Make household chores fun by singing and dancing while you do them. Plant a garden in the spring and care for it throughout the summer. In the fall, you can choose flower bulbs for spring and get them ready to be planted. You can also learn a new skill together, such as yoga, martial arts, or a specific style of dance. Making changes in little ways can lead to long-term benefits. So grab the kids and get out there!
What are your favorite activities to keep your family fit and healthy? Start a conversation in the comments below.
Dance Dance Revolution photo courtesy of Inhabitat.