If your family is not very active already, then beginning to change that status will not be any harder than making up your mind. Being an active family often requires very little money, but does require dedicated planning.With a sense of determination, and a little creativity, you can transform your family routine from mostly solitary and sedentary activities into a more healthful and physically fit group.
Physical activity is important for both children and adults, and being active together, as a family, benefits everyone. Adults need 2 1/2 hours a week of physical activity, and children need abut 1 hour or 60 minutes every day.
Here are a few tips to strategize making your family more healthy and physically fit.
- Set specific activity times
Determine time slots throughout the week when the whole family is available. Devote a few of these times to physical activity. Try doing something active after dinner or begin the weekend with a Saturday morning walk.
2. Plan ahead and track your progress
Write your activity plans on a family calendar. Let the kids help in planning the activities. Allow them to check it off after completing each activity.
3. Include work around the house
Involve the kids in yard work and other active chores around the house. Have them help you with raking, weeding, planting, or vacuuming.
4. Use what is available
Plan activities that require little or no equipment or facilities. Examples include walking, jogging, jumping rope, playing tag, and dancing. Find out what programs your community recreation center offers for free or minimal charge.
5. Build new skills
Enroll the kids in classes they might enjoy such as gymnastics, dance, or tennis. Help them practice. This will keep things fun and interesting, and introduce new skills!
6. Plan for all weather conditions
Choose some activities that do not depend on the weather conditions. Try walking around a shopping mall, indoor swimming, or active video games. Remember the Nintendo Wii? Enjoy outdoor activities as a bonus whenever the weather is nice.
7. Turn off the TV
Set a rule that no one can spend longer than 2 hours per day playing video games, watching TV, and using the computer (except for school work, of course). Instead of a TV show, play an active family game, dance to favorite music, or go for a walk.
8. Start small
Begin by introducing one new family activity and add more when you feel everyone is ready. Take the dog for a longer walk, play another ball game, or go to an additional exercise class.
9. Include other families
Invite others to join your family activities. This is a great way for you and your kids to spend time with friends while being physically active. Plan parties with active games such as bowling or an obstacle course, sign up for family programs at the YMCA, or join a recreational club.
10. Treat the family with some ‘fun’ physical activity
When it is time to celebrate as a family, do something active as a little family reward. Plan a trip to the zoo, park, or maybe a trip to a nearby lake as a family treat. Amusement Parks offer lots of walking and some fun rides, too.[that’s a real treat that also depends upon financial affordability-after bills are paid, fridge is stocked with food, and cars have full tanks, etc….]
Physical activity as a family, though it seems like a dying art these days, should be re-imagined, revisited and serve as a reminder to us that family is so important to our existences as social human beings. Family is extremely important as an indicator of the social climates in which we live. “So goes the family, so goes the nation.”
Enjoy time spent with family, and let’s help families stay healthy for as long as we have them with us. Time is so precious. Don’t wait until it’s too late-have some family fun and engage in physical activity, too. The best times spent with family, when they become a fond memory, should include those times when: playing baseball with Dad, cooking or baking a cake with Mom, riding bikes together with cousins, etc…
I know that I have the best memories associated with each of these times, and we were having fun together. Think about it!