Getting appropriate amounts of physical activity and exercise can sometimes be a challenge in today’s society. Although we know that it is a critical part of a healthy lifestyle, consistently, most people find ways to avoid being more active and getting exercise. Now, add to this the complications of getting your entire family on the path to being more active and you have a real challenge on your hands.
Let’s face it, a lot of families struggle to even sit down at the table for dinner, let alone get together to do jumping jacks and push ups in the family room. So, these are just a few suggestions on how you can start working on bringing your family together to be more active.
Walking can be very beneficial, but kind of hard to convince a 15 year old to go for a stroll in the neighborhood with the parents. So, take the family somewhere away from the house where there is a lot of space and something to do with a little independence. Parks and playgrounds make the easiest choices for this with younger children. Although despite being 30, I enjoy a playground as much as any 5 year old. For the older children, a little freedom and walk around the local mall could be enough to get them out and about without feeling like they are out the their parents. For a more intellectual approach, museums tend to be larger and require quite a bit of walking when you really think about it.
Pick a sport, any sport that can be done in a group. Whether its as active as running a soccer ball down a field or as limited a bowling, its still being active and getting away from the constant seated screen time that drives us to laziness. Football, frisbee, golfing, rock climbing, ice skating, baseball, hockey, kickball (my personal favorite), tennis, and dodgeball are just a few of the possible choices that exist for becoming more active. To help encourage the family to join in, make it a day trip if you can. Take everyone to a park or the beach to get everyone to join in and have fun. Plus, if you take them somewhere to play the sport, if the would rather go with option #1, they can walk around and enjoy the location.
One of my fondest childhood memories was one Christmas morning, my parents bought everyone, including themselves, toy disc launchers that were quickly used in house-wide game of war. We spent over 2 hours running around the house acting like kids, and then we spent the next 10 years finding random foam discs behind furniture in and in the most unlikely of places (the freezer). Playing tag, using Nerf guns, wrestling, laser tag, even hide and seek can become an active game to be played by the whole family. For those of you who are more technologically inclined, Wii and Xbox Kinect allow for very active participation in games that can involve multiple players.
Regardless of the activity you have in mind for your family, the most important aspect is having fun. So, if your family has fun seeing who can sprint the fastest or do the most pushups in a minute, great! However, for the majority of families, make a plan, try it out, and find what your family can do for fun that just might happen to involve a little movement.