Family Fitness: Staying Healthy Together

In these days of fast food dinners and hours spent sitting at computers and video games, families need more than ever to work together to stay healthy. As a parent, you have a responsibility to teach your kids the importance of being physically active every day.

Exercising together as a family ensures kids will grow up with this healthy practice deeply ingrained. In addition, when your family shares time together, regardless of the activity, it also secures and reinforces emotional bonds.

Be creative when it comes to planning family fitness activities. You might be surprised at how positively your family responds to new types of exercise together!

Examine these ideas for family fitness and commit to trying some of them:

1. Bike-riding. If your bicycles are gathering dust in the garage or shed, clean those bicycles and get them tuned up. Then, plan a family bike ride twice weekly.

• Vary the times of day you ride until you find the hour that fits best for everyone. Mornings on the weekends and in the summer might work. Alternately, try late afternoons before dinner or early evenings after the meal.

2. Swimming. Most children love playing in a swimming pool. Once all your kids know how to swim, take the family to the pool a couple of times a week, weather permitting.

• Swimming expends many calories and provides plenty of opportunities afterward for the family to just hang out in the pool to talk and spend quality time together.

3. Alternate walking and running. Sure, a family walk is a nice, leisurely activity. But what if you changed it up a bit and alternated walking 3 minutes then running 3 minutes? Most kids love to run, and would even happily race you for the few minutes you’d be picking up the pace.

4. Mini-biathlon. If your family likes to run and bike, bike and swim, or run and swim, plan your own mini-biathlon. Parents can design easy and fun training schedules for everyone.

• Engage the entire family in planning, training, and completing your mini-biathlon. You’ll spark your children’s interests in physical activities while sharing special moments together.

5. Calisthenics, Yoga, or Tai Chi. It’s nice to have some ideas for indoor fitness activities in case of a rainy day. Depending on the age of your children, many types of exercise can provide an enjoyable family fitness experience indoors.

• Stretches, modified push-ups, sit-ups and leg lifts will all provide physical challenges for you and your children when there’s inclement weather. Practicing Yoga or Tai Chi is also challenging and healthy without being too boisterous for inside the house.

• Use mats or blankets on the floor to make floor exercises more comfortable. You’ll get in some quality time and conversation with the kids while doing indoor exercises as a family.

6. Dance DVDs. One of the most enjoyable, carefree fitness activities to do with your kids is dancing. After all, who doesn’t love to dance?

• There are tons of dance DVDs on the market right now. From dancing to the oldies to learning to salsa to trying new hip-hop moves, you’ll surely find some DVDs that your family will love to do together.

Demonstrate that fitness is fun, challenging and invigorating and you’ll help your kids develop real excitement about staying active! When you educate your children from a young age about fitness and the advantages of staying in shape, these lessons will endure for their whole lives.

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Rejuvenate Your Mind and Body in Nature

Enjoying fresh air and sunshine is one of the easiest ways to rejuvenate your mind and body. There are numerous advantages to going outside every day!

Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors
* Fresh air and sunshine can help you regain focus. Spending a brief period of time outside in-between work tasks can benefit you greatly.
* The sun’s light is a powerful source of energy for the human body. Because it provides you with the essential nutrient Vitamin D, sunlight can benefit the strength of your bones, your moods and your overall health.
* Spending time outdoors can help relieve stress and tension. Breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the sunshine or the clouds, and take a short walk before going back inside. You’ll notice a difference in your mood.
* Going outside can also benefit your physical fitness. Whether you’re raking leaves, gardening, playing with a child, or pet or simply taking a walk, you’re sure to burn extra calories. Spending an hour or more outside every day can translate into significant calorie use throughout the week.
There are plenty of ways that you can get outdoors more, even if you usually prefer to stay inside and watch television or read.
How to Get Outside More Often
1. Take a walk. Whether you’re walking to get somewhere or simply for pleasure, the combination of fresh air, sunshine, and cardiovascular benefits make taking a walk outdoors a smart move, especially if you work it into your daily routine.
2. Play. If you have children or a pet that would enjoy playing outside, then use them as an excuse to get more play into your schedule. Try a sport, an outdoor game, going to a dog park for a game of fetch, or anything else that might get you active and outdoors during the day.
3. Get in touch with nature. Whether you go bird watching, flower picking, whale watching, fishing, or simply go out to take photographs, nature can be a beautiful place to be. Immersing yourself in this beauty is one of the greatest benefits of spending time outside.
4. Wash the car. Don’t bother taking your car to an automatic car wash. Consider the benefits of washing your car yourself. Not only will you save as much as $15, but you’ll do a much better job and get to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air at the same time.
5. Go beachcombing. If you live near the ocean, a lake, or a river, you can find plenty of interesting items as you walk along the edge of the water. Collect shells, pebbles and other trinkets from nature while enjoying some leisure time by yourself, with a loved one, or with your entire family.
6. Ride your bike. Ride to the store or work each day. Not only will this get you outside to soak up some Vitamin D, but it also offers numerous cardiovascular and health benefits, in addition to being eco-friendly.
Set a goal to get 30 minutes more sunshine outside today than yesterday. If you can meet this goal every day for a week, raise the bar again. Even half an hour of outdoors time every day can benefit your life in numerous ways.


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Great Vacation Options That Won’t Leave You Broke

As the old saying goes, “All work and no play make Jack and Jill a dull boy and girl.” And that’s exactly why it’s crucial to ensure vacation is an important part of your annual rituals. Spending the whole year at work or school can really take its toll if you don’t have the opportunity to relax and enjoy a little of what life has to offer.

The issue that faces many families, however, is that vacationing often times works out to be quite pricey. As such, we choose to spend money on more immediate needs and activities than on vacation. However, you should feel reassured by knowing that there are actually quite affordable ways to take vacations that definitely won’t leave you broke at the end of the day.

Consider these affordable vacation options:

1. Take a camping vacation. One of the most cost-effective ways to vacation is to go camping. Especially for people with kids, this is a perfect way to strengthen the bond as a family and have fun all at the same time. Remember that kids love outdoor spaces, so as long as you can take them to a safe campsite, you can leave the rest up to them. Enjoyment awaits!

2. Add a hiking element. To add even more adventure and fun to a camping vacation, you could perhaps choose a camp location that offers hiking opportunities. There’s just so much excitement and adventure a hiking trip can bring, not to mention the exercise value that comes with it! You’ll burn some serious calories during a hike.

3. Choose a countryside cottage or farmhouse. Who says you have to stay at a five-star resort in order to enjoy a vacation? There are several rural and countryside options available for people interested in vacationing on a budget. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find:

  • Wonderful farmhouses or cottages nearby that are tailored to families looking for a vacation with a difference
  • A self-contained vacation opportunity that allows you to pack up your own food items and head off out of town
  • The perfect chance to enjoy the rest and relaxation of a good vacation

4. Visit amusement parks. Any child you ask will tell you that being able to visit an amusement park would completely make their vacation experience worthwhile. Many parents, however, avoid that option because they feel it would be quite expensive. However, nothing could be further from the truth! You can find:

  • Affordable hotels and motels with self-contained amenities like kitchens surrounding most of the popular amusement parks.
  • Accommodation options that provide a great opportunity for you to pack your food items and head off on your amusement park vacation without worrying about “breaking the bank.”

These are just a few of the ways you can take your family on vacation without overspending. Utilizing online resources as well as magazines and information from travel agents can help you identify other affordable options. The imagination you put into planning a vacation can make the normally expensive choices manageable by the standards of your pocket.

There comes a time when our bodies and minds need a crucial break from day-to-day activities. The best way to achieve that break would be to go on vacation. However, the idea is to identify vacation options that won’t be financially strenuous.

Once you identify such vacations, you’ll be able to exhale in the comfort and relaxation of your vacation destination without worrying about how your bills will get paid when you get back.

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