Every loving parent should make it a priority to engage their family in a health-promoting lifestyle. But, if you want a fit and healthy family, you must first get fit and healthy. According to research, one of the strongest predictors of childhood obesity is the family environment. In one study, children of sedentary parents were more likely than children of active parents to gain weight and become overweight. Here are a few fun ideas to have a much healthier, active and fun family.
Spend an hour together doing yard work
Raking leaves, pulling weeds, and spreading mulch are all activities that help to build strength and endurance. Furthermore, when your children assist, the task does not take as long or appear to be as difficult (depending on the age of the child, of course). There are numerous ways to make yard work more enjoyable for your family. For example, after raking a pile of leaves, you can jump in them.
Make a list of indoor chores for your family, and then join them
Younger children enjoy feeling useful and will enjoy assisting you with household chores. Ask them to assist you in making the beds, folding and putting away laundry, setting the table, and loading the dishwasher—all of which are physical activities that can help raise your heart rate, stretch your body, and build your muscles.
At least twice a month, go for a hike
Grab a backpack, plenty of water (everyone should drink about 8 ounces every half-hour), and a light lunch before heading to a nearby trail for a hiking adventure. Pack sunscreen and insect repellent, as well as hiking boots for rocky terrain and sneakers for smoother trails. Make it about something else, such as looking for a specific animal or bird, climbing to see a lake or pond, or seeing how many rocks you can scamper over without touching the ground, to make it more fun for kids. When children are unaware that they are hiking, they enjoy it much more! Pack a picnic lunch, of course; this is an excellent opportunity to share a delicious but healthful meal with your family and to instill good eating habits in your children.
Create a space in your backyard that is conducive to activity
What you plant in your backyard has an impact on how fit your children become. They will play if they see it. If they do not, they will watch television. Older kids enjoy climbing ropes or ladders and building forts. Make sure you have a swing set, a hose sprinkler attachment, a sandbox, a wagon for transporting toys and dolls, and outdoor sporting equipment for basketball, badminton, soccer, and other games.
Washing the family vehicle together
Scrubbing is good exercise, but getting everyone wet and soapy is just plain fun for the entire family.
Books Should Be Read
If your family moves at breakneck speed, curl up with a good book to slow them down and instill a love of reading in them. Picture books will appeal to younger children, even babies. Get a teen’s attention by inquiring about the latest young adult fiction trend. Take turns reading a page, or have one family member do all of the reading aloud for the evening. The keyword here is time—everyone gets downtime, quality time, and story time rolled into one.
Consume your meals together
Everyone is rushing out the door in the morning. At lunchtime, most children are at school, while adults are at work. Dinner is usually the one meal of the day when everyone can sit down together. Make an effort to pay attention to one another. Turn off the television and place cell phones in a drawer. Gather everyone around the family table and enjoy a meal together. Spending time with your loved ones every day of the week is just one of the many advantages of a family meal.
Make a goal for yourself
Having a commitment or a goal, such as being active for at least 150 minutes per week, will assist you in staying on track. To hold yourself accountable, share it with others. If you’re the competitive type, virtual challenge friends, family, or coworkers to see who can meet their goals consistently over time.
Limit your screen time
Experts warn that children should be limited to one to two hours of screen time per day, but some are logging more than double that amount. Set limits, keep television and electronic media out of your child’s bedroom, and restrict computer use to school projects.
Set out on a treasure hunt
Here’s a great way to keep the family fit while also teaching your children about trust, teamwork, and problem-solving. Take them to a nearby park and draw a map of an expedition route, circling various “checkpoints.” Take turns navigating to and leading the team to each destination on the map. Begin with an easy course in an open park and work your way up to a trail system. Stay together as you explore terrain features, decipher map clues, and search for the hidden treasure. Does that sound overly complicated? Then simply go bug, animal, or flower hunting. Finding a colorful salamander under a log or rock is a great way to keep a young child entertained.
Dance, dance, and more dances
Put on your favorite music and join your children in a dance party. Teach your children your generation’s dance moves and have them show you theirs (or makeup moves for you to try). Dance burns the same amount of calories as brisk walking or basketball. And the kids love it, especially when the adults pick them up and swing them around every now and then. And don’t leave the dancing to chance or when you’re in the mood—make it a point to have one or two family dance sessions per week. Maybe a Friday night dance will become a family tradition.