Fit, Fun, Fabulous Families

Have you been thinking about getting in better shape? Looking for fun, low-stress ways to connect with your kids? Well, “tricking” yourself into exercise might be just what the doctor ordered. For some it may only be a matter of deciding to stand rather than sit, jog (or skip) rather than walk, or ride rather than drive. And many families find that simple, enjoyable choices about shared physical activity (such as playing catch together rather than watching a show) create a sneaky path to healthier, happier bodies, minds, and relationships.

For more advice on keeping your family moving, see Proper Fitness Means Healthy Kids.

Tips for . . .

  • parents with children ages birth to 5
    • Play with babies in ways that encourage movement. Set them on their tummies so they learn to push themselves up. Show them how to reach for toys or, help them practice walking while you hold their hands.
    • Be a role model by taking care of your own body through regular activity.
    • parents with children ages 6 to 9
    • Invite your children’s friends to be active with you: visit a playground, build something big, garden, go for a walk or ride bikes.
    • Encourage your kids to try various sports and activities, including less common ones like folk dance or kickboxing. Find activities they enjoy and that help them feel successful.
    • parents with children ages 10 to 15
    • If possible, honor your children’s growing independence by allowing them to bike to friends’ houses, music lessons, or a park.
    • Limit their time on TV, computer, and video games. Many young people choose to be active when not glued to a screen.
    • Round up a group of kids and adults from your neighborhood for a game of kickball or dodgeball (with a very soft ball!)
    • parents with children ages 16 to 18
    • Support the physical activities they love. If it’s dance—attend recitals, hiking—plan a backpacking trip; sprinting—go to their meets, swimming—buy a pool pass or find a nearby beach.
    • Help them find part-time jobs that include physical labor. Examples include landscaping, child care, stocking groceries, or coaching.
  • According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, people of all ages can benefit from moving their bodies more. Experts recommend 10,000 daily steps as a good target. A lot of people typically get many fewer than that — some as low as 300-400.Consider buying a pedometer for each family member and keeping track. Most people can safely add about 2,000 a day toward their goal. You can learn more about this and other healthy lifestyle choices at www.shapeup.org.

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