Physical activity helps adults and children stay healthy, but with busy schedules, it may be difficult to fit in the exercise you and your family need. By taking the time to be active together, your family will not only reap the health benefits but also potentially form tighter bonds.
To help you get started, ChooseMyPlate.gov offers 10 tips for becoming more active as a family:
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.
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.
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.
Use what’s available. Plan activities that require little or no equipment. Examples include walking, jogging, jumping rope, playing tag and dancing. Find out what programs your community recreation center offers for free or minimal charge.
Build new skills. Enroll the kids in classes they might enjoy such as gymnastics, dance or tennis. Help them practice. This’ll keep things fun and interesting, as well as introduce new skills.
Plan for all weather conditions. Choose some activities that don’t depend on the weather conditions. Try mall walking, indoor swimming or active video games. Enjoy outdoor activities as a bonus whenever the weather is nice.
Turn off the TV. Set a rule that no one can spend longer than two hours per day playing video games, watching TV and using the computer (except for schoolwork). Instead of a TV show, play an active family game, dance to favorite music or go for a walk.
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.
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.
Treat the family with fun physical activity. When it’s time to celebrate as a family, do something active as a reward. Plan a trip to the zoo, park or lake to treat the family.