It’s no surprise to learn that obese children have obese parents. Children learn their basic habits from their environment and the people who raise them. When they see those people practicing bad habits, they are immensely likely to repeat them as they grow up and in their adult lives. While nutrition plays a huge part in combating obesity, just as an important a role falls to exercise, something fewer and fewer people seem to have time for these days. Between work, school, commuting, homework and meals, finding time to exercise can be a chore unto itself, but it can be a lot easier to make time for when it’s done as a family activity – get everyone involved and get healthy!
One of the best ways to get kids involved in family fitness is to use games that they enjoy.
Creating a “Family Olympics” once a month can be a great way to get kids excited about getting outside and doing a host of different exercises. Get creative and make a sign or a banner, or ribbons and prizes to award the winners, and then have the whole family compete in sack races, jump-rope competitions, relay races and even a tug of war. If your family has an odd number of members, or you want to make things even more fun, invite the neighbors over to compete in the Family Fitness Games.
Take a walk! Not only will everyone get some much needed cardiovascular exercise, but this is a great way to spend quality time together and a tremendous teaching tool.
If kids need some incentive to get outside and join in the family fitness, make the destination an incentive, like a park or a splash pad, or even a friend’s house. While on the way, parents can catch up with their kids’ lives and, for the younger ones, teach them about public safety and even expand their vocabularies by pointing out objects they might not see every day inside.
Take a dip! Hit the neighborhood pool as a family, and don’t just use the available slides, diving boards and lifeguards as your built-in babysitter while you catch up on your Iphone or Kindle. Get in the water with them and stay there. Bring toys with you so there’s not a dull moment, and take some of the creativity of the Family Olympics with you – creating races and fun competitions – from standing on your hands underwater to diving for coins. The best part of exercising in a pool is that the water acts as a natural resistance to all your movements, meaning every motion takes more energy and burns more calories, but the buoyancy means less pounding on the feet and joints. It’s a great exercise environment!
Jump for it! For just a few dollars, you can invest in a jump rope and create hours of individual and family fitness. Parents can use a longer rope to allow kids to jump together, or multiple short ropes can be used to have competitions and races. Using the longer rope can also be used to teach younger children about rhythm and word play, if you use the older jumping rhymes that most of us were taught growing up.
These are just a few examples of ways to have family fitness time together. The important things to remember are to be creative, do everything together and have fun.
Until next time …