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Only one in three kids are physically active every day, and parents face similar statistics. The good news is, you can get your family moving with a variety of fun activities that don't feel like work.
Not only will regular exercise give you a physical boost by making your heart, muscles and bones stronger, it can also help you and your children feel more confident and whole.
Here are some easy ways to make exercise a family affair that can encourage physical activity and improve everyone’s whole health.
New Family Activities to Try
If your kids and family seem to be stuck in a rut for fun physical activities, try something new. Sign up for:
- Horseback riding
- Martial arts
If your child finds something that he or she enjoys, it’s more likely the healthy habit will stick. Choose an activity that’s developmentally and age-appropriate for your child, and take all of the necessary safety precautions, such as wearing proper protective gear.
Schedule Time for Exercise
It can seem daunting to squeeze one more thing into already packed schedules. Make exercise a priority with a designated time and space that works for your entire family. Try Walking Wednesdays or Swimming Saturdays to ensure exercise becomes a fun and regular routine.
Show How Exercise Can Be Fun
Model healthy habits towards physical activity by making sure you regularly exercise yourself. If going to the gym isn’t your style, try taking evening walks, bike rides or even working in your garden. Invite kids to tag along and make exercise a family affair.
Play With Your Kids
Play with your child and teach him or her a new activity, such as volleyball or basketball. Young kids need access to active toys — think balls and jump ropes — to keep them moving and developing appropriately.
Take a Screen Time Break
Make a family pact to turn off devices in the evenings (and certain hours on the weekends) and use that time for physical activity instead of staring at screens. This will help your family connect while doing a healthy, fun activity together.
Invite Your Child’s Friend
If your child is reluctant to try a new physical activity, he or she may be more inclined to try it if you encourage him or her to invite a friend. Pick a Saturday and invite one or two of your child’s friends to go for a hike, take a canoe trip or go ice skating. Consider inviting the friend’s whole family to get to know them better.
Track Everyone’s Progress
Keep track on a calendar or chart on the fridge each time a family member exercises for a bit of friendly competition. Award "prizes" or let your kids pick out a special treat once they meet certain milestones, such as exercising 10 days in a row. A visual system to track progress is great motivation for everyone, including adults.
Break a Sweat for a Cause
Gather your friends, family, neighbors or church group and register to walk in an upcoming fundraising race. Encourage your kids to help fundraise and spread the word about the cause you’re supporting. Train together as a family to get conditioned in the weeks and months leading up to the big event.
Let Your Kids Decide
Ask each child to pick a fun activity to do as a family each week. Check your local park district website or other community website for upcoming events. You may be surprised at how creative kids can be in the activities that they choose.
Get Active for Lifelong Health
Prioritizing regular physical activity as a family will help instill the belief that exercise should be enjoyable — not something they have to do, but something they want to do as a fun part of their daily lives. And we’re always here to help you keep your kids moving and healthy. If you have questions about your child’s physical health or need some guidance along the way, our pediatric experts are here for you. Request an appointment today.
This material is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment and/or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.