Being physically active used to easier before the world of cable TV, video games and computers. Now a-days, many families have a more sedentary lifestyle and a lot more health-related problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and depression. Childhood obesity is now epidemic and more than a third of American adults are clinically obese.
So, what can families do to counteract these problems? One is to change the family diet to include healthier foods and fewer fast food meals. Two is to exercise as a family. There’s lots of ways to include physical activity in your daily living and to add new routines that you and your kids can depend on to keep everyone moving.
- Walk to school when possible. If weather and time permit lace up your walking shoes and walk with the kids to school. Older children can walk by themselves, or may want to organize a group of friends to walk together.
- Physical activity video games. Video games have gotten a lot of the blame for keeping kids and adults on the couch instead of actually moving. But there are newer games that are designed to get everyone dancing, exercising, and playing virtual sports. These games can be a lot of fun and exercise for the entire family.
- Build strong bones Bone strengthening exercise is important for all family members. Besides lifting weights (free hand weights are inexpensive compared to a gym membership) there are other activities that get the heart beating, burn calories and build bone such as jumping rope, volleyball and gymnastics. Any “weight bearing” activity will work.
- Enjoy local parks. If your neighborhood has a park, you can make going a reward for smaller children. A good grade? “Let’s go to the park!” Put away your toys without complaining? “Thank you for a job well done. Let’s go the park!” It’s also a great time to talk with and bond with your child.
- Active birthday parties. Way too often birthday parties are spent at Pizza parlors. Make the next birthday an active adventure. Plan a visit to the zoo, skating rink, bowling alley, snow or river tubing, or a game of adults verses kids basketball. A bike is a great present for everyone in the family.
- Playground play. Swinging on the overhead bars, climbing and even tug-of war are great muscle-strengthening exercises..
- Learn a new activity. Take a class together such as martial arts (great muscle building and critical thinking skills), dance and yoga.
- Walk the dog. It’s not only good exercise for the dog – but a great way for everyone to get outside, share the day’s goings on, and do one of the simplest and most beneficial exercises the whole family can participate in.
- Garden. Spring is just a few weeks away, and it’s gardening time. Planting a vegetable garden not only provides healthier choices for meals, but it’s a great way to introduce children to a variety of vegetables. Studies have shown that picky eaters are more likely to add new vegetables to their list of likes if they participate in the planting and growing process. Flower gardens are great too – everyone loves beautiful flowers!
10. Take a cue from your kids. If your child shows an interest in a physical activity, follow up and encourage their participation. See if there’s an adult version you can join – everyone should be a child some of the time!
Source: Lynn Yoffee http://www.everydayhealth.com/kids-health/exercise-ideas-for-family-fitness.aspx