Family fitness starts with you. Factor it into your everyday lifestyle and you’ll set the example to motivate the rest of your family to adopt the habit of regular exercise.
According to Health and Human Services1, 28 percent of Americans over the age of 6 are physically inactive. The statistics also show a staggering number of hours devoted to video and computer games by high-school-aged kids. On an average school day, one-third of American teens spend three hours engaging in gaming alone. On a broader scale, children (ages 8–10) spend more than seven and half hours a day in front of a screen.
Technology is an unavoidable part of modern life, allowing greater productivity, connectivity, and potential in many areas of our lives. It’s increasingly important, however, to be conscious of our screen time, prioritizing healthy movement and mindful habits to create life balance—inside and out!
Instill a habit of exercise that extends to every member of the family. Live a life that exudes enthusiasm around fitness and play—the benefits are undeniable. Follow these tips to integrate regular exercise into your daily family life.
Factor in Fitness to Family Outings
Transform your weekends, days off, and vacations into prime play days focused on family, fun, and fitness. Make your time off together active as you reconnect with each other.
Get creative with an effective plan2 for your family fitness goals and take the party outdoors. Turn off screens, find a nearby park, plan a trip to a national park, get out to an amusement park—whatever you can fit into your mutual time off of school and work.t’s easy to let screen time creep into your kids’ daily schedule while you play catch-up around the house, but making it an active habit to leave the house to move, stretch, and laugh is important when you’re trying to make fitness fun for the family.
Everyone should anticipate your suggestions for a bike ride, pulling over to dip your toes in a nearby stream, or directing your family out of traffic on your way home to stop and throw a ball around. Children learn through their parents’ example—if you can’t find motivation, it will be hard for them to get excited about exercise on their own.
Make Fitness a Part of Life
Your children, especially young kids, won’t usually understand or care about the benefits of exercise. Increased concentration, weight control, and better moods, for example, aren’t really good incentives for small children who most likely value time spent in play and having fun together much more than being healthy. It’s up to you to present fitness as a fun, entertaining way to spend time together.
Find ways to integrate fitness into your daily schedule. Create an ongoing flag football game that brings healthy competition into play, shoot hoops in the backyard before bed, have impromptu dance parties before cleaning up dinner—the key is for spontaneous or planned movement to be normal in your household. Bond through physical activity, create a love for exercise for life!
Make Fitness “Fun”ctional
Regular chores must be done. Whether you’re an avid gardener, enjoy tackling house projects, or take on washing your car, edging the lawn, or anything in between. Growing children can learn a lot from being included in home projects. And many of these tasks involve a good deal of functional movement: points!
Kids involved in family projects will not only likely get a few gains, like improved coordination, as they pitch in, they also get to be a part of something important and will feel proud of their progress when it’s over. Involve your children in canning, painting walls, building, sewing—creating. These will be some of their most memorable experiences that will follow them into adulthood.
Involving your family in functional movement will develop skills and help them lead an active lifestyle throughout their every day.
Get Started Today
For a few ideas you can incorporate immediately to shift your family’s mindset around fitness, try one of these:
- Plan at least one activity every weekend to promote physical movement and play.
- Paint a hopscotch board in your driveway or install a basketball hoop. Create as many opportunities for exertion at your home base as you can.
- Make it a habit to get 20–30 minutes of physical activity in right after school, before chores or homework.
- Walk or bicycle whenever you can. When possible, leave the car behind—walk to school, take a scooter to the neighbor’s house, challenge your mileage on your bicycles as a family.
- Start a log and keep track of your fitness progress. Regularly set new goals with your kids.
- Make everyday chores fun by singing and dancing while you work together.
Make it a goal to change the environment of your home to prioritize regular fitness. You’ll be surprised at just how fun your family time can be.