Modern day lifestyle has made it more difficult for us to stay fit and by “us” we mean both parents and children. Parents spend their days sat at the desk, working away at the office and driving around in their cars. Children spend their free time sat on the sofa, tuned into their iPads and playing the newest XBox game to have come on the market. In fact, a recent study of nearly 8,000 Americans finds that sitting for too long can kill you.
Between working to pay the bills, cooking the dinner, doing the washing and finding time to just relax once in awhile, family life can get very busy and exercise normally gets left at the end of a very long list of things to do. However, if parents were to include their children in a series of physical activities, staying fit as a family would be less challenging. What follows is a number of ideas that you could implement as part of your family’s regular routine without too much difficulty.
1. Hold a Weekly Sports Tournament
Exercising to stay healthy might not be as appealing to all members of the family as partaking in a series of physical activities that actually form part of a competition. Trying to beat mom or dad is the kind of incentive kids need to enjoy exercising. If you spend time as a family watching television, commercial breaks can be used to bring order to the tournament with a separate physical activity taking place during each commercial break. Even simple challenges like who can jump the most amount of times, or who can do the greatest number of squats before the program comes back on, can make family time and exercise fun.
2. Ditch the Car and Start Walking
Walking is something you can do even with young children and it’s an activity that can have a dramatically positive effect on your health. Walk the children to school, even if it means getting up earlier and leaving the house earlier. Walk to the supermarket and get the kids to help you carry the shopping home. Get a family dog and take it out for walks as a family. Go out for pre- or post-dinner walks at least three times a week. Not only do you get the chance to catch up as a family, but you also get the opportunity to see a little bit of the neighborhood and interact with the world outside of your family unit. What’s more, just think about how much money you would save on petrol every month!
3. Turn on the Music and Get Your Freak On
As well as improving memory and developing balance and coordination, dance is a wonderful activity for families who want to stay fit and healthy together. Young children love to move around to music and they lack fewer inhibitions than teenagers. If you get them used to dancing for fun from an early age, they’re more likely to continue strutting their stuff as they get older. You can introduce them to some of your favorite music artists, teach them a little about how music has progressed over time and burn some calories while you’re at it. Your movements don’t have to be as beautiful to look at as Fred Astaire’s once was. You just need to get moving.
4. Turn Chores Into Effective Exercise
Chores can be made more fun when the whole family spends 30 minutes doing them together. You can race to see who finishes first or try to beat your personal best and be rewarded with a treat if you manage to meet the challenge. Apart from keeping the house clean, teaching children the importance of cleaning up after themselves and making it easier to have time to relax, chores can be pretty physical at times. According to the Huffington Post, there are a number of chores that can help you lose weight. Carrying the laundry, vacuuming the stairs, taking the trash out and scrubbing the bathroom tiles, works muscles that might not have otherwise been put to the test if you had spent the entire evening slouched in the lounge.
5. Plan Outdoor Activities
A life spent indoors is just as bad as a sedentary lifestyle. The more time you can spend outside of the house as a family, the more likely you are to increase levels of physical activity and, as a result, take better care of your health. Once a week you could plan to do something together as a family. You might choose to go swimming, to go for a long walk, to have a picnic and play with a frisbee, or to cycle your way around the neighborhood for an hour or two. Try a number of activities together and see which ones seem to engage your children the most.
On a final note, remember that it’s also important to incorporate a healthy diet into your family’s lifestyle if you want to feel the positive effects of a more active home life. Exercising together is definitely a step in the right direction, but if it’s combined with a diet of fried foods and take-out then the effort is going to be lost. When you get the chance, try some of the healthy family recipes listed on the American Heart Association’s website.
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