By Amanda C (Contributor)
Edited by Ali Reza
One of the keys to staying healthy is being physically active. With our society becoming more technology-centric, it is easy to get wrapped up in television, video games, computers, cell phones, and other electronic gadgets. Limiting children’s screen time and encouraging them to be more mentally and physically active is important. But parents need to set a positive example as well. Staying active as an entire family can instill good habits in your children from a young age. There are plenty of fun ways to spend time together while getting your heart pumping and muscles moving.
Go for a walk after dinner each night and make it a habit. It will give your family more time to talk and spend time with one another while staying active. Change things up and let the kids decide which direction to go when you get to an intersection. Your walk could be different every night. Wear a pedometer or use an app on your phone to track how far you walk. See if you can keep beating previous goals. Ideally you should aim to take at least 10,000 steps over the course of the day.
Visit the park or playground and bring a few toys along. You can climb around the play set with your children and help them to use the swings or slide. Take advantage of the open space to play catch, race one another, fly kites, play tag, or any number of other activities. Be creative. You can also ask your kids what kinds of games they play in school and implement those as well. If the park has tennis or basketball courts, you can also get the whole family involved in these sports as well.
Wash the car together. It may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to being active, but washing (and even drying) the car uses a lot of muscles! You can also have fun splashing in the water. Your kids may groan at the thought of washing the car at first, but turn it into a game and have them wear their bathing suits or other clothes that they don’t mind getting wet.
Hold a scavenger hunt around your yard or the neighborhood. The list of things to find could be endless so you can change it up each time. Look for certain colored leaves or flowers, rocks of a certain size, houses with different features, or anything else you can think of. Your kids will be so busy racing around trying to find everything first that they won’t even realize they’re getting exercise in!
Go for a bike ride or hike on nature trails or paths throughout the area. Many communities have greenways and bike paths for residents to enjoy. Strap on everyone’s helmets and set off to take in the beautiful scenery and elements of nature. Or cruise around your neighborhood and check out what’s going on. Make sure your children know proper bike safety first. Bring plenty of water while hiking or biking to stay hydrated.
Set up the sprinkler or visit the pool when it’s hot out. Swimming is a gentle way to stretch and exercise your muscles. You can also teach your children to love the water from a young age. The sprinkler allows everyone to run, jump, and hop through the water while staying cool. Just don’t forget to put on sunscreen!
Start a family Olympics and invite neighbors or friends to join in. Set up different events for family members to compete in for an afternoon of laughter, excitement, and fun exercise. Let the kids help come up with ideas for events and assist with setup and decorating.
Check out the different resources throughout your community that lend themselves to opportunities to stay active. Look for parks, nature preserves, playgrounds, pools, family events, classes, and more. Get your children in the habit of staying active so it is something they continue as they age. It is also a great way for the whole family to spend time together and create lasting memories.