Staying Active: It’s a Family Affair
It’s not rocket science that children who grow up in more active families generally turn out to be healthier physically. And creating an active family culture goes a long way toward making grownups and kids alike more capable, confident and satisfied. In our modern world, you can’t expect physical activity to just happen, but with a little planning and mindfulness you can build in some ways to counteract the lure of sedentary pleasures. Here are a few tips to keep the family fit:
Just think how many family walks took place before cars! Research shows that our brains function more efficiently when we’re walking rather than when we’re still, which provides great interaction potential. Family walks can be unstructured or centered around conversation topics. They can alternate route leaders or draw on the familiarity of repetition. A silent walk can be a challenge for younger children, and some brain relief for teens always at a screen. Making a walk a ritual after dinner or on certain nights or weekend mornings lets kids know it’s a routine occurrence and limits resistance.
Active Vacations and Day Trips.
Vacations can easily be about toll road food and car butt. With a little planning or awareness, they can include rental bikes or paddle boats, stair climbing contests/races and family pedometer challenges. Bad weather ideas include indoor trampoline parks, roller rinks, or a mall or supermarket scavenger hunt.
Getting a Job Done Together.
Cleaning the garage out might not sound like the most family fun you ever had, but getting chores done is frequently physical and doesn’t have to be drudgery. Decide who’s doing what, put on some get-it-done music, set a timer for 10-20 minutes and have a cleaning blitz, seeing how much can get spotless before the clock runs down. Paint a room crazy colors. Get some window markers, let everyone decorate for 10 minutes, then arm the crew with Windex® and give them five minutes to make everything crystal clear.
Assess and Invest.
You know your family and what’s likely to get them moving. Give yourself some time to think about what motivates them and then invest. You might need to put a stationary bike in front of the television with a clipboard hooked to it for each family member to record mileage and a little friendly competition. Maybe your motivator is an annual membership to the state parks or a local pool. Maybe it’s awarding a weekly “move it” allowance that each family member uses in their own way to get more active, or getting a Spotify® membership so you can take turns as DJ at family dance parties. It doesn’t have to be a large investment, and if your budget’s tight, think of how you might re-allocate from a non-healthier expense (soda, the fancy cable package, trips to the movies, etc.). Use your knowledge and act accordingly, with the reassurance that investing in a lifestyle that keeps you and your family moving is one of the best investments you can make.
Brought to you by Memorial Health & Lifestyle Center and
Fitness Specialist Bridget Hardy, a personal trainer and group