Ensure your kids get on the right path to physical fitness and health by encouraging movement.
Roughly 20 percent of children aged 6 to 19 are considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Further, the World Health Organization reports there are 22 million children under the age of five who are overweight worldwide, and the number of overweight adolescents has tripled since 1980.
These numbers are … well, concerning.
Late summer and early fall is an especially good time to get your family on an exercise regimen. More moderate weather means the possibilities for physical activity are plentiful. To keep your family from becoming a statistic, get the kids on the right path to physical fitness and health. Here are some tips to help making it a priority for your family.
Practice and Play Sports
If your child is involved in sports like baseball or basketball, make a point to get outdoors and practice with them regularly, outside of their scheduled practices with their team. This will help their game, both of your activity levels and provide some quality time together.
If your child doesn’t play sports at school, get out and play catch, jog, go for a brisk walk or shoot some hoops. It’s not about being great at the sport, but rather, enjoying yourselves and getting your heart pumping. Additionally, your child may find that they like a new sport they had never thought of playing before.
Run Through the Sprinklers
Water-related play is the perfect entertainment for kids in the late summer and early fall. Take kids swimming at the community or public pool. Enroll them in swimming lessons or lifeguard training, depending on their age. If you’d rather keep things contained to your backyard, grab a kiddie pool or inflatable above-ground setup and watch the littles dive for rings and play Marco Polo.
Build your own DIY slip and slide in your backyard. Be creative with the sprinklers or have a water-balloon or squirt-gun fight to get the whole family running around and having fun. Anything to keep kids active and cool is fair game.
Have a Dance Party
Science shows that dancing is good for us — from an endorphin boost and better sleep to an improvement in overall happiness. Research also indicates a mental and emotional benefit to dancing too, particularly related to depression. One study even found that dancing benefited individuals with Parkinson’s disease, reducing their mood disturbances and anger.
Crank up some Beyonce in your living room and have a little dance off together, and make it part of your routine. Maybe every day after breakfast? This will burn calories, alleviate stress and will make you all laugh together too.
Do Household Chores
No one enjoys cleaning the house. But when done together as a family, chores can be more tolerable, not to mention good for the body. Dedicating an afternoon to cleaning up the house and yard together is a great way to accomplish things quickly and also provide much needed physical activity. Did you know that washing floors can burn as many as 187 calories in a half hour?
On a hot afternoon, pull into the driveway and wash the car with the family. Washing the car burns 153 calories in just a half hour. Reaching the roof, scrubbing the tires, squeezing the windows. With kids, there’s bound to be splashing and water fights and running away from siblings with the hose. They’ll be worn out by the end of it and won’t even know they’ve been exercising!
Join a Gym as a Family
Join a gym together to support a healthy lifestyle. Many gyms offer a wide variety of cardio and strength-training machines, studio classes like yoga, indoor cycling and Pilates that you can participate in as a family. Classes are a great way to mix up fitness routines and focus on health and wellness.
If you’ve got young ones you’d like to bring along, babysitting services are available at many locations. Though too young to dip into classes, they’re never too young to see mom and dad make fitness a priority. Set a good example early on.
Even if you can’t make it to the gym, put something on the TV. Choose from your old collection of VHS tapes — Richard Simmons, anyone? Or opt for something a little more recent, like workouts on Daily Burn or a favorite YouTube channel. Your kids will laugh it up watching clips from the 1980s and they’ll love moving to the music.
Make Walking Part of the Routine
Taking walks is so important to a baby’s sensory development — the smell of the cement after the rain, the sight of a butterfly, the feeling of grass at the park. As kids get older, walks don’t become any less important. They keep restless tots active and engaged and prime them for a life of prioritizing exercise.
Make walks part of your family routine. If there is a market nearby, walk there after lunch for a popsicle and enjoy it on your way back. Pack up a picnic and stroll over to the park for a bite to eat and some play time on the jungle gym.
Give kids the responsibility of exercising the family pets. Though you should still supervise, let them initiate and plan when and where they’ll go on a walk or a trip to the dog park. They’ll quickly learn they’re accountable for this daily household chore.
If it’s just too hot during the day, go for a family moonwalk. Once it’s dark and the stars are out, walk around the block together (provided you live in a safe area). Watch for shooting stars, talk to the man on the moon or find constellations. The younger kiddos will be enamored by the night sky. They’ll also be tired once you reach home.
With a little creativity and the willingness to try something new, you’re sure to find the right fit to keep your family active and healthy.