10 Tips For A Healthy and Active Family
Having trouble getting the kids outside despite the nice weather? Sometimes the video games can be first choice, but here are 10 tips to get the whole family outside and active.
1. Go On A Treasure Hunt
Take your kids to a local park and set an expedition course on a map, circling various “checkpoints.” Take turns navigating to each point on the map and leading the team to each destination.
2. Hold A Sports Party
Rather than the typical pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey birthday party, hold your child’s birthday party in an active location, such as a roller-skating or ice-skating rink, laser tag centre, wall-climbing gym, or indoor playground centre. Or you can have your own “no particular reason” party. Kids won’t think of what they’re doing as exercise – but it is.
3. Plant A Garden Together
Digging holes, planting seeds, and pulling weeds build upper body strength. As an added bonus, research shows that children are more likely to eat the vegetables they help grow, which means your gardening forays will help your child follow a more nutritious diet.
4. Take A Hike
At least twice a month, grab a backpack, plenty of water (everyone should drink eight ounces every half-hour), and a light lunch and head to a local trail for a hiking expedition. Wear hiking boots for rocky terrain or sneakers for smoother trails, and pack sunscreen and insect repellent. To make this more fun for kids, make it about something else, such as looking for a particular animal or bird, climbing to see a lake or pond, or seeing how many rocks you can scamper over without touching the ground. Kids like hiking much better when they don’t realize it’s about hiking!
5. Dance During Commercial Breaks
Make it a family rule that whenever you watch television, you have to stand up and dance around during the commercials. This goes for everyone! Whoever gets caught sitting on the couch during a commercial break must perform his or her least-liked household chore for one week.
6. Sign Up For A Race
Check your local paper for a list of 5K and 10K walk/run events in your area. Many of these events also raise money for charity, which can inspire your children to train for the event. Plus, it will teach them how rewarding it is to give back.
7. Walk Around The World
Place a map of the country, state, or world somewhere prominently in your home. Work with your children to arrive at a walking destination. Then, based on your daily family walks, plot your progress on the map using thumbtacks. There are about 2,000 steps in a mile, so you can plot your progress by using a pedometer. To add some incentive, promise to actually take a vacation to your walking destination once you complete the number of steps to get there.
8. Act Like A Child
Remember duck-duck-goose, hopscotch, and red-light-green-light-one-two-three? You probably thought of these games as just that, games. But they also require movement and count as exercise. Teach them to your kids and play along. As you laugh, you’ll burn extra calories. Don’t forget Simon Says!
9. Let Them Play
Place small children on the floor at least once a day – and let them crawl, move, and toddle. Children are inherently active when given the opportunity to move. Yet we often confine children and prevent the very exercise they need.
10. Design Your Backyard For Activity
What you put in your backyard helps determine how fit your children become. If they see it, they will play. If they don’t, they will watch TV. Older children enjoy climbing on ropes or ladders and playing in forts. Make sure you have a swing set, sprinkler attachment for your hose, sandbox, wagon for hauling toys and dolls, and outdoor sporting equipment for basketball, badminton, soccer, and other games.