The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study that showed that if one spouse is obese, the other is 37 percent more likely to become obese, too. Obesity is contagious, and your kids are not immune! Children of obese parents also are more likely to be overweight. The bottom line is that it begins with you, and setting up a family exercise plan is a great way to get moving together. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Make a rule – No TV or video games on weekdays or before 30 min of playing outside.
- Set an example – Save your walk for when your kids get home from school, and take them with you. If their little legs have a hard time keeping up with you, let them ride their bike alongside. This is a great way to build family exercise into your routine.
- Develop a routine – Find a physical activity that your family enjoys doing together and schedule it into your calendars at least once a week.
- After school play time – Let your child have a friend over to shoot some baskets or play outside.
- Play sports together as a family – If you have older kids, get them involved and play a game of family baseball, volleyball, basketball, soccer, or football. You can go to a local park or just play in your own backyard. This is a great way to introduce a new sport or improve your skill level for a sport you already enjoy.
- Put together a PLAY basket – Get an old laundry basket and fill it with toys that require movement to use, like jump ropes, several balls of different sizes and types (such as beach balls and tennis balls), hula-hoops, a large flat sheet (for a parachute), balloons, plastic fly swatters, brown paper grocery bags, and don’t forget to add some music. Kid’s love listening to upbeat music while they play. If it is too cold to go outside, have them use these objects to build a fabulous obstacle course around the house. For easy clean up, the last time through, they have to pick up everything as they go and carry it to the finish line!
- Get a pedometer! These are the best inventions to help kids burn up energy. The minute your children walk in the door from school have them put on the pedometer. The child with the most steps by dinner gets to sit at the head of the table or gets _ hour extra Mom or Dad time before they go to bed. (As a bonus, they get to pick what you do together, too!) You can buy a kid-friendly pedometer online at www.drsearswellnessinstitute.org.
- Plan your family vacation around an outdoor activity. Camping is a great way to get rid of all the technology that clouds so many of our lives today. Bring your bikes along and add a few short hikes, as well. There are some great books at your local library, as well as online , that show ideal hiking paths of all sizes and in all areas of the country, with or without kids. Remember to bring lots of water!
- Have each person pick a different family exercise or activity to learn together. For example, your children may enjoy rock climbing, tennis, racquetball, or dance lessons.
By incorporating family exercise into your regular routine, you can all hold one another accountable for being active. In addition, exercising together will help you enjoy the activities that much more. Remember to approach each activity with an open mind, and focus on having fun together. You’re setting a powerful example for your children!