According to the government initiative for active lifestyles, Let’s Move, “you need to be active 60 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, for 6 out of 8 weeks.”
Are you and your family getting the exercise you need? If you have vowed to make 2013 a more active year for you and your family, check out these simple tips for integrating activity into daily life.
Make Activity Part of Your Social Life
Making physical activity part of your hobby, social life and ‘fun time’ will make integrating activity into your lifestyle easier. From little league sports, activities at local parks and recreation centers and active play dates with friends, there are many, kid-friendly ways to make activity an important part of your family’s life. Emphasize “activity” over “exercise” and consider these fun active options suggested by Reader’s Digest.
- Biking, Walking and Moving Over Driving: Biking or walking to grocery stores, restaurants and other establishments nearby over driving helps kids realize driving isn’t the only way you can get somewhere. When biking, practice safety like wearing a helmet, obeying traffic laws, staying alert and looking out for pedestrians, safety signals like stop signs and poles like traffic bollards and unaware drivers.
- Family Competition: Children are required to take fitness assessments and pass physical education class in school. Learn the parameters of this test and turn it into a family competition with a reward for the winner.
- Sports Party: Make festivities active by holding them at sporting establishments like an ice-skating rink, laser tag, indoor rock climbing, or indoor playground. For the most part, kids wont even realize that they are exercising.
- Get Outdoors: Explore the natural environment of the location you live in by getting out and hiking at least twice a month. Make the hike educational by turning it into a natural scavenger hunt, where family members can hunt for common types of plants, rocks and wildlife. Give the idea an adventurous spin by dipping into the imagination of your child and making the hike a Lewis-and-Clark-worthy expedition. Don’t forget to pack a backpack with lots of water!
- So You Think You Can Dance? When you’re watching TV, make it a habit to stand up and dance during commercials. Whoever gets caught not moving will get stuck with an extra chore for the week! It’s also fun to dance for no reason. Make a point of putting on some of your family’s favorite music and dance once a week.
- Get Involved: See what kinds of walks and races are happening in your region. This is a great opportunity to work together as a family and to meet other like-minded families. A lot of races are sponsored by charities, which is a great opportunity to get your family involved with volunteer work. Another great way to get involved is to look into local health clubs; from yoga to aerobics, many are starting to offer family programs.
- Active Play Date: A lot of parents like to jog or walk together; include your kids and turn a personal workout into an activity for your kids to enjoy with their friends too.
- A Helping Hand: Have kids help with washing the car, lawn work, gardening or other physical chore. This incorporates physical activity with learning a valuable life skill.
Be the Example
Do you think a kid is going to listen to you if you don’t represent the ideals you preach? Probably not. The absolute best way to get your kids into an active lifestyle is to lead by example. Little adjustments like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, choosing healthy foods over high-sugar, high-fat and processed foods, and making time for exercise in your daily life can help instill the same beliefs in your children.
Limit Technology Use
It seems almost impossible to pull kids away from technology completely, but limiting TV, video game, smartphone and tablet use will force your children to think outside of the box for activity ideas. Although getting your kids to be active daily may translate to your kids thinking you expect them to throw jacks on the sidewalk like kids in the 1950s, but it’s for their own good. According to Let’s Move.gov, “eight to 18 year old adolescents spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media including TV, computers, video games, cell phones and movies,” while only one-third of high school students get the appropriate about of activity in a day.
[About the author: Katherine Dewey - A nutritionist, Pilates instructor and Spinning freak, Katherine shares healthy recipes and innovations in exercise and workout equipment. She is the health nut among family and friends.]