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.