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.

Overcoming Post-Holiday Blues

The holidays are often a whirlwind of activity and emotion involving a busy schedule of shopping, school programs and get-togethers with friends and family. If you experience an emotional disappointment when the holidays pass, there are many things you can do to lift your mood and make it through the emotional let-down after the holidays.

These strategies will boost your spirits and get your New Year off to a great start:

  1. Take advantage of the extra time you now have for yourself. Since the holiday hullabaloo is over, you have some time to reflect. What do you like about your life? What would you like to change?
  2. Think about small goals you’d like to accomplish. Do you want to finally get that hall closet cleaned out? Maybe you can now complete that special project your boss has wanted you to do.
    • It’s a good time to make a list of all those little tasks you want to get done. Having the list will help you concentrate on your goals. Plus, it’s wonderful to draw a line through an achieved goal.
  3. Focus on you for a change. Now is the time to hone in on personal desires and goals. Perhaps you want to exercise more or spend more quality time with your children. Ponder how you might go about making the changes you seek. Think of taking little steps toward your big goals.
  4. Pursue an interest. We’ve all got those interests we hope to “get to” someday. Since you’ve got some down time now, why not go for it? Delve in to that subject you’ve been curious about or start the photography class you’ve longed to take.
    • If you’re not sure what you’re interested in, do some research. Visit your local library, browse some magazines or look in the newspaper. You’ll most likely find a couple of topics or activities you’d like to learn more about.
  5. Have a dinner party. You’ll have plenty of time to plan and prepare for this event with people you really care about. You’ll enjoy yourself and your mood will lift.
  6. Renew and refresh your surroundings. Do you feel like re-arranging the furniture in a room or two? Maybe you want to paint the walls or make new curtains. Re-decorating your surroundings is a wonderful way to go in to a new year and banish the holiday blues at the same time.
    • Re-focusing on your surroundings and thinking about any changes you want to make will help you de-focus from the doldrums.
  7. Re-connect with an old friend. There’s something so wonderful about making that call you’ve wanted to make. Hearing your friend’s voice again will bring great joy to your heart. It might be a friend from the old neighborhood, a former college roommate or a past co-worker you were once great friends with.

If you’re feeling down now that the holidays are behind you, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll begin to rise above those post-holiday blues when you try some of these strategies.

Taking some quality time for yourself during this period can lighten your mood immensely and ignite your excitement about the year ahead.

Easy Ways to Achieve Emotional Wellness

Do you sometimes feel like you can’t cope with all the issues in your life? Do you typically feel low when things don’t seem to be going your way? If so, it doesn’t have to be this way! You can break through those negative feelings and thoughts.

Try these tips to strengthen your emotional wellness and bring more peace to your life:

  1. Know the signs of depression. You don’t need to be worried about your mental health to do some research and be able to recognize the signs of possible depression. In all likelihood, you’re simply battling some low points. If your symptoms do point toward depression, take action to seek help. Some things to consider:
    • What do statistics say about people with depression?
    • What are the major factors contributing to depression?
    • Do you have traits that make you prone to anxiety or depression?
    • How can you tell if you’re spiraling downward?
  2. Have a strong support base. A huge part of achieving and maintaining mental wellness is having a network of family and friends. Life’s challenges can really take a toll on you, but you’ll be better able to cope and overcome if you have supportive people around you.
    • Spend a lot of quality time with family members and friends doing things you all enjoy.
    • Instead of internalizing unpleasant feelings or thoughts, talk with your support network about them.
  3. Stay positive. Working to maintain a positive outlook is significant in helping you to achieve and sustain mental wellness. Being optimistic isn’t an overnight accomplishment if you’re accustomed to feeling down in the dumps. But little by little, you’ll be able to build the emotional strength to stay positive much of the time.
    • Talk to people around you who have been able to turn negative occurrences into positive learning experiences.
    • Connect with your spiritual side and find your strengths.
    • Spend some time each day meditating and re-centering. This will help you create mental stability and resilience.
  4. Keep an active mind. When your mind is active, there’s very little room to entertain negative, depressing thoughts. An active mind that’s engrossed with healthy thoughts and processes will likely stay well, even in some of life’s toughest times.
  • Get involved with a charitable organization and focus your energies on giving hope and help to the less fortunate.
  • Take up a sport or hobby that engages you both mentally and physically. The sense of achievement as you learn and perfect the activity will help you to develop mental wellness.

With the myriad of concerns that can present themselves in our fast-paced lives, mental and emotional balance isn’t always easy to achieve. However, with positive effort and focus, you can cultivate resilience.

The steps above are just a beginning. As you go forth on your journey toward happiness and wholeness, you’ll find even more techniques that work for you. Embrace your challenges as opportunities to grow, and you’ll be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams.

5 Quality Family Activities to Enjoy During Autumn

Autumn is a season when you can spend more quality time together as a family. Shorter days mean that the kids are home earlier, and cooler weather invites everyone to spend more time indoors.

Try some of these ideas as inspiration for wholesome family activities this fall:

  1. Have a fall fun day. If you have younger children, plan a day to just experience the season together.
    • You might start out by raking leaves, collecting and bagging them and moving them to the curb for pick-up. Encourage the kids to collect leaves of various sizes and colors.
    • Point out the sights and smells of autumn in your yard and community. This activity has all sorts of benefits: outdoor physical activity, elements of cooperation and responsibility, and plenty of communication.
  2. Visit your local pumpkin patch or farm. Especially if you have younger children, they’ll be delighted to experience the sights, textures, and smells of agriculture.
    • Let each of the kids select a pumpkin or two for the fall holidays. Grab some decorative gourds to bring the sights of autumn into the house. Add some cinnamon or apple pie potpourri wafting in the air, and you’ll help the entire family get into the spirit of fall.
  3. Enjoy fall-focused dinners. Encourage family members to work together to prepare a favorite fall meal. Even little ones can participate by setting tables, stirring ingredients together and serving a favorite food.
    • Corn on the cob, fall squash, potatoes and a favored entrée can help create memorable traditions around fall dining. Dessert can be pumpkin or apple pie or other seasonal family favorites.
    • Provide art materials for the kids to make autumn-related placemats or place cards.
    • Preparing and enjoying a special meal together gives every family member a chance to participate. It also makes great opportunities for communication to enhance your family relationships.
  4. Hold a story night. With the fireplace going and everyone sipping hot chocolate and snacking on their favorite goodies, fall is a perfect time to enjoy reading together.
    • Find a book that everyone in the family will enjoy. Harry Potter can be a great place to start, but there are many other options, too.
    • Have everyone take turns reading a few pages or a whole chapter.
    • Holding story night one evening a week is a wonderful way for your family to re-connect, relax and enjoy each other’s company.
  5. Spice up your movie night. Do a little initial research by finding movies that have family-friendly plots or storylines that stimulate family discussions.
  • Some examples include: What About Bob, Pay It Forward, Freaky Friday, Kung Fu Panda, and Finding Nemo.
  • This is another activity where you might allow the kids to take turns selecting. However, if you’re seeking movies with morals or special messages, you might want to help “steer” the children’s selections by providing the names of 3 or 4 movies and letting the kids choose from among those.

Take advantage of the incredible opportunities that autumn offers for making memories with your children. Whether you go for a family outing together or just gather for an old-fashioned movie night, you can spend more quality time with your family this fall!

Enjoy Quality Family Time with Family Nights

Life is hectic and, without making a concentrated effort, it can seem almost impossible to enjoy quality time with your family. To solve this dilemma, schedule a weekly Family Night.

Family Nights can be an incredibly uplifting way to bring your family closer together.

What is Family Night?

Family Night is an evening designated by parents (usually) when everyone in the immediate family suspends their busy social calendars to spend time with each other. Some experts suggest that Family Night occur every week, for example, every Thursday night. Parents make it clear that all family members must be present.

One of the jobs parents have is to keep family interaction as positive, illuminating, and fun for the kids as possible. Spending time regularly with family members provides opportunities to re-connect and instills the value of family in children. Regular Family Nights enable you to accomplish these goals.

What Can You Do For Family Night?

The great thing about Family Night is that your family can do whatever you like to do together.

These ideas show you some of the ways your family can re-connect and have fun:

1. Cook dinner together. For example, your teenage son can make the salad, your daughter sets up the table, Mom cooks the entrée, and Dad has the side dishes under control.
2. Watch a movie. Have dessert, popcorn, or other snacks after dinner while relaxing and watching the movie.

• Let the kids take turns picking the movie.
• Or you might select a film you believe covers educational or interesting topics to discuss with the kids after viewing.
• Of course, you can also go out to a movie theater to watch a film on Family Night.

3. Go out to dinner. Let each member of the family take turns selecting where you’ll go to dine.

Make it fascinating, fun and educational by introducing the kids to a cuisine of a different culture each week.

4. Take part in a fun activity together, like walking, biking, or playing baseball. Incorporating healthy physical activities into your weekly Family Night is smart because kids learn to enjoy regular exercise and focus on physical health as a family.
5. Occasionally, do a family project together. Family Night might also be spent with the family working together to complete a project around the house.
• Painting the driveway, pulling weeds and trimming plants outdoors, or even washing the car are examples of projects that families can do together on Family Night.
• When a family works together, children can learn all kinds of important lessons about teamwork, perseverance, correcting errors, and feeling pride about a job well done.
It’s best not to do a work project every week.

6. Vary your Family Night activities. Try something different each week.

• You could post a short list of things to do and let the kids take turns picking the weekly activity.

Having regular Family Nights are important to the development of a well-functioning, happy family. With these ideas and your own adventurous spirit, you and your family can enjoy many wonderful experiences. Discover the joys of scheduling regular Family Nights together.