FAMILY FITNESS: TIPS TO STAY HEALTHY TOGETHER
If we didnt know it before, we know it now: being physically active and focusing on fitness is an important life priority beginning in early childhood to build healthy habits. Not only does regular exercise and physical activity increase physical andźzlearning, and minimize illness. Because the habits and preferences children develop early in life will shape their choices and behaviors for years to come, it is critical to establish good physical activity habits now.
But knowing the importance of exercise and healthy habits and doing something about it are two different things. The average family has more commitments than time to meet them, from homework to basketball practice to piano lessons. It often seems impossible to fit one more thing into the schedule, no matter how good it is for you.
One way to fit fitness into the schedule is to turn it into a family activity. Not only is daily physical activity a healthy goal for everyone in the family, it provides us with an opportunity to spend time together and offers an excellent model for young children as they see the adults in their family having fun with fitness right alongside them.
WHAT DOES W.E.L.L. MEAN FOR FAMILIES?
W - is for Well-being. A family who feels well inside and out can live well.
E - is for Eating. The food we take in as individuals makes us better contributors to our family units.
L - is for Love. Love of one's body, mind, and of others through healthy habits.
[The other] L - is for Longevity. Feeling well and BEING well keep us living our best lives even longer.
FAMILY FITNESS: KEEP IT SIMPLE
Make Any Space a Home Gym!
While not making it to the gym or a class is a convenient excuse, the truth is, you don’t need fitness special equipment, or a gym membership, to work out.
Your fitness edge comes from consistent exercise becoming a part of your life.
Making your workouts convenient is part of removing the hurdles that keep you from developing the life-changing habit of a consistent fitness routine.
And it doesn’t get more convenient than the at-home workout. Keep reading to learn all the benefits of working out at home and fast track your health.
10 tips for family fitness
Create a fitness-friendly household
1. Make exercise accessible
Instead of buying video games, DVDs, and other electronic equipment for family members’ birthdays, give them skipping ropes, tennis racquets, soccer balls, netballs, and any other exercise equipment you can think of. Leave them in an accessible and visible position and encourage your family to use them as much as possible.
2. Make it fun
Fun and creative exercise programmes are more likely to get your family involved. So instead of making exercise a chore, make it a fun day out in the park, a family cycling day, or a ritual tennis round robin.
Avoid ‘nagging’ your partner
3. Don’t make an issue out of it
Nothing will turn your partner off more than hearing you harp on about the benefits of exercise. So instead of nagging your partner to stop being a couch potato, ask him to help you get fit. Plan enjoyable training sessions together the couple which plays together, stays together.
4. Give them a fitness gift
Is it birthday time again? Instead of buying the man in your life a larger shirt, why not purchase a male-friendly activity for him to enjoy. Try adrenalin-pumping pursuits such as white-water rafting, rock-climbing, surfing lessons, or even an outdoor adventure pack. Or you could give him a personal training pack or buy a punching bag for the backyard. Just be prepared he may want you to join in on the fun!
Sneak exercise into everyone’s day
5. Actively commute to school and work
Parents, teenagers and children can benefit from actively commuting to work and school. One US study found that children who walk or cycle to school are not only more active, but have better cardiovascular fitness than children who are driven or catch public transport. While for adults, actively commuting to work promotes a positive attitude towards physical activity. Overcome child safety issues by enrolling them in the local Walking School Bus programme. If you live too far from work to actively commute the whole way, do it part of the way instead.
6. Play together
Kids love it when their parents take interest in them, especially when an activity is involved. Take your kids to the park, kick a footy together, throw a ball, teach them to swim, or fly a kite. Socialising with your kids has been proven to boost their self-esteem, which makes it more likely they will remain active in their adulthood. As parents you will also benefit from the quality time you spend with your kids.
Stop the excuses
7. Put the family on a fitness plan
Do your kids complain when they’re told to go outside instead of playing on the computer? Or is your partner constantly on the couch watching TV? Then it’s time to put your whole family on a fitness plan. The plan need not be difficult just add in small changes which will deliver big results. Send the message that physical activity is a fun, healthy habit which makes you feel fantastic. One US family fitness study showed that when 68 children and their families were put on a 12-week healthy lifestyle plan, two thirds had better self-esteem and a whopping 81 per cent improved their body mass index. So get planning!
8. Plan for all eventualities
All of us have made excuses at some time for why we can’t exercise and stay fit. We may say it’s too cold, or there’s no time, or we’re too tired. But, these excuses are sabotaging our efforts to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Overcome these excuses with a plan. If it’s pouring outside, move your training inside with a workout DVD, or try our exercise plan from last month’s magazine, or head to the indoor swimming pool. Or if you’re too tired, make that an extra reason to get active as exercise boosts energy levels.
Get kids away from TV
9. Find them a sport
Despite US research showing normal-weight kids are more likely to participate in sport than overweight or obese kids, sport is for every child. If your child feels they lack the skills for netball and football, introduce them to less common sports such as volleyball or badminton. It’s less likely that ‘sporty’ kids will be involved in these sports, which gives timid kids time to practise their skills, boost their confidence levels, and enjoy sport.
10. Be good role models
Do you sit on the couch at every chance? Because if you do, there’s very little chance your kids will be enthusiastic about exercise. As kids imitate their parents’ actions, they will adopt a healthy lifestyle and make exercise a priority if their parents do. Talk positively to your kids about exercise and encourage them to maintain their fitness efforts.