Is keeping your children healthy and fit at the top of your priority list? It should be. According to the American Heart Association, close to 30% of our children are classified as either overweight or obese. The American Heart Association also notes that although proper nutrition is crucial, a regular routine of physical activity is essential in both preventing obesity and in maintaining the proper weight throughout their growth process.
Since we all need to exercise for a myriad of reasons, what are some ways your family can exercise together? Here are some simple, but not costly, ideas:
1. Family Exercise DVDs-Just Google the phrase, family exercise DVDs, and you’ll come up with exercise DVDs for the whole family. Move the furniture out of the way and have a specific time that you exercise. Just think about how much money you save watching the same video over and over again. To prevent boredom though, you might want to purchase several videos and toggle back and forth.
2. Walking – Of course this is the most obvious. However, walking is easy and can be done almost anywhere. Walking outside means getting fresh air and noticing the small things along the way as you enjoy a casual conversation with your younger ones. This is a reward in itself. Also, don’t despair if the weather is bad. As a backup plan, you can go to a local mall and walk the perimeters.
3. Biking – Bike riding in your neighborhood, if it is out of the heavy traffic, is great. Remember to all wear helmets and review the safety rules for bicyclers. Also, if everybody doesn’t have a bike, take turns riding and the other person running alongside. This could be challenging-but a good workout.
4. Swimming-Learning to swim well as a family can be an awesome experience. For those that don’t know how to swim, now would be a wonderful time to learn together. You can swim all year round since most communities have not only outdoor pools in the summer but also indoor pools in the winter. Make this a regular routine. Don’t fret over the money. Many pools have affordable reasonable rates for families.
5. Indoor Game-A table game such as ping pong can get the heart rate up. The better you get, the more calories you burn. Challenge each other as teams and make it fun. May the best team win. If you don’t have a table, going to e-bay may be helpful as well as other classifieds. Look for a bargain.
6. Gardening and/or Yard Work-This is my favorite. For a small investment of less than $100 your family can seed, plant, rake, hoe, and harvest all season long. More precious than the money-saving vegetables and sore muscles you will reap, are the lasting memories you and your children will never forget. Many adults have a passion for gardening as a result of wonderful childhood experiences while gardening with their parents. Even if you can’t start a garden, you can make it a weekly family project to keep the yard raked and weeds pulled; another great workout.
I have covered six very easy ways to increase your family’s physical activity. Videos, walking, biking, swimming, indoor games, gardening or yard work are some less costly physical activities. Of course, not all families have the same circumstances. In our economy many families are working harder than ever to make ends meet. Time has become precious-but not as much as our children. Despite our circumstances, let’s teach our kids habits that include regular exercise, along with proper nutrition, so that they will carry these habits into adulthood. Remember, memories and habits will last a lifetime.
American Heart Association Findings: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4670