You know why exercise is important for you: it lowers health risks, helps you maintain a healthy body mass, and improves performance in school. But fitness isn’t only good for you, it’s also great for the rest of your family. Whether it’s helping your little brother develop healthy habits early or keeping your grandma active, everyone benefits when we focus on family fitness.
But don't expect your family to understand the benefits of exercise right away. Your can help them start by making them see that moving more is fun. When exercise feels like a fun group activity, your whole family will enjoy it more and be more likely to stick with it.
Here are five ideas for family fitness that can get you all moving.
1. Make Time
Set aside 30 minutes three times a week to do fun exercises. Make it a part of your after-school or after-dinner routine. Kick a soccer ball around or shoot hoops with the family. Also, plan at least one family activity every weekend. It can be as simple as taking little ones to the playground -- or as challenging as an all-day hike with your teenager.
A key to getting kids moving is to plan time for physical activities. You can find that time by turning off the TV, for starters. Then offer a variety of family activities, both competitive and noncompetitive. When kids explore different ways to move their bodies, they can find exercises they enjoy and want to stick with for the long run.
2. Walk or Bike Everywhere You Can
Use muscle power: Bike or walk to the grocery store, library, or to your school or sports events. Go for a 30-minute family walk after dinner instead of heading right for the television. Track everyone's steps with a pedometer, and try to add more distance every week. Use a family exercise log to make it a friendly competition. Put your log or chart on the refrigerator as a reminder to keep up the good effort together.
3. Plan Active Family Gatherings
At family or holiday gatherings, turn off the TV and take a walk around the neighborhood or go for a short hike at a local park. Or get everyone outside for a game of catch or basketball.
4. Give Your Meal Routine A Makeover
This isn’t necessarily a fitness tip, but it’s definitely worth mentioning: families that eat healthier also tend to have other healthy habits, such as regular physical activity. Get your entire family involved in meal preparation and you’re more likely to succeed. Take your little brother to the farmers' market, let them pick their own fruits and vegetables, and involve them in the food preparation. They’re much more likely to enjoy their meals—and to clean their plates.
5. Make Yard Work Less of a Chore
Enjoy seasonal yard work together. Help grandma or grandpa plant and tend a garden. Ask your little brother or sister to rake leaves into a pile -- and then jump in it. Make snow shoveling fun by building a snow fort or creating an epic family snowball fight.