The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends that adults and children get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week. As busy parents, 30 minutes can seem impossible with the demands of everyday life. A perfect solution is to combine family time with fitness time. This will help you reach your fitness goals, and create a life long love of fitness for your children.
Being physically active as a child plays a vital role in development. Exercise improves strength, coordination, and endurance; it helps relieve stress, and teaches self-discipline. With childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes on the rise, exercise is more important now than ever before. Studies show that there is a direct relationship between obesity and hours spent watching TV. With spring just around the corner, there is no better time to get away from the TV, and outside to enjoy some family fun.
Exercising as a family should be a time of playing, laughing, and fun. It can be as simple as riding bikes to the neighborhood park, or a family made obstacle course that challenges both parent and child. Each child will be unique in their abilities, and will vary in developmental stages. The goal for younger children ages 5 to 8 will be different than with your preteen or teenager. Younger children should focus on basic motor skills such as, kicking, throwing, and catching. They will enjoy group activities such as T-ball and soccer. Also, introducing the concept of good sportsmanship is important at this age; parents can role model being a “good sport” along with enjoying physical activity.
Here is one idea of a fun game that small children will love. The game is called, “Crazy Jumps,” start in a straight line in an open space and see who can jump the farthest. While jumping make silly gestures, sounds, and movements, record who reaches the other side of the yard first. Your preteen or teenager might not enjoy a game of Crazy Jumps; instead organize a family/friend softball game or train for a local fun run. Here are a few more ideas to aid in your family fitness journey:
- Play a game of Tug-of-war
- Hula-hoop to your favorite 50’s music
- Relay race alternating movements; hopping on one foot, bear crawl, or skipping.
- Play basketball
Don’t make exercising a chore; it should be something you and your family look forward to doing. Set a weekly routine in motion and you and your family will be on your way to a healthier fitter future. Remember to always warm up and stretch before any physical activity, and to cool down when the activity is finished. Be creative, burn calories, and above all have fun!