It's a new year. Did you make a resolution to be healthier and lose those extra pounds? Why not get the entire family in on it? According to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, less than 20% of adults, and only one in three children get their recommended amount of physical activity each day. Obesity has doubled among adults since the 1970s.
January is Family Fit Lifestyle Month. The best time to start any new healthy habit is right now.
Exercise is probably one of the toughest habits to start, but also tough to break once you're in the groove. Plus, exercise has amazing benefits. It keeps you healthy from your heart to your bones, reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease. It also boosts your mood, gives you energy, reduces anxiety and depression, and improves your self-esteem because you will be looking better and feeling better. Plus, it's a great opportunity to spend time with your family.
Plan It With Their Interests in Mind
Schedule one morning or evening a week to a family activity such as bike riding, walking, hiking, or something your children love like skateboarding. Taking an interest in their activity will help build a strong connection between you.
Take a class together. Local parks and recreation departments and fitness centers offer everything from yoga and dance to Tae Kwon Do and swimming.
Pick a new activity for each weekend such as ice skating this week, mini-golf next week, and snowshoeing the following week. All you have to do is a web search on local activities, or pick up your local parenting publication to find some great ideas.
There are opportunities in each day to get a little more exercise into your routine and promote healthier habits for your entire family. Skip the elevator and take the stairs. Park the car farther away from the store, and walk anywhere you can such as through your local downtown.
Form a Daily Habit
Each night after dinner, take a walk together through your neighborhood rather than watch television. It may help you all wind down and sleep better.
If You Build It...
...they will play. Turn your yard into anything you can imagine: an ice skating rink, a baseball field, a Frisbee disc course, a soccer field, or an obstacle course. It doesn't have to be perfect or even permanent, just something that works and gets your children (and you) outside.
Do It for Charity
Sign up for a bike-a-thon, walk-a-thon, 5k, or fun run for a great charity. Not only will you be raising money for a worthwhile cause, you'll be motivated to train and practice for the big event.
Each season brings with it new fun activities. Apple picking and pumpkin picking in the fall, snowshoeing and skiing in the winter, hiking and yard sale shopping in the spring, swimming and boating in the summer. Check your local newspaper for events happening in your area.
Get a Dog
Your kids have been begging for one anyway, right? Having a dog is the perfect excuse to get outside. He needs to be walked. He'll want to play fetch. He might jump in the lake. Maybe it's time to break down get that new best friend for your family.
Join the Gym
Joining a gym doesn't have to be expensive. Planet Fitness memberships start as low as $10 a month per person (They were just featured on The Balancing Act!) and the local Y has family memberships for under $100 a month.
Even one change in your routine will lead to more changes and before you know it, you won't know how you ever lived without exercise. It can be tough to stay motivated sometimes. But if your family supports each other, and acts as one another's cheerleader, it will help. You may also want to consider starting fitness diaries to keep track of your goals. Don't forget that you are your child's biggest role model; be an inspiration.
Please remember to consult with your family doctors before beginning any exercise routines, especially if you or your children have any pre-existing conditions.