A family fitness program can be a great way to get the family together while also getting healthier. The world has changed a lot in the last decade or two. Rather than shooting hoops in the driveway, kids are sitting on the couch playing basketball online.
Playgrounds are empty, but Facebook statuses are updated hourly. There is no need to ride your bike to your friend's house when you can just chat with them on FaceTime or send them a text. Social interaction has become 'virtual' and a sedentary lifestyle has resulted.
Even when children are part of organized sports, they are usually highly competitive leagues that require hours of driving, early morning practices, and pressure to perform. In other words, exercising has lost its appeal. It's just not fun anymore. But, it really is very easy to break the cycle and make a change. It doesn't have to be complicated. When it comes to health and fitness, little things can make a big difference.
The commitment to
become more active as a family doesn't mean you have to sign up for the next 5K
marathon. Things like raking leaves, washing the car in the driveway, or going
for a walk after dinner will benefit your health as well as your relationships.
Do you agree that it's time to bring the enjoyment back into exercising, to make family time fun, and to put an importance on health and fitness? Have you been avoiding making the necessary changes because it just seems so overwhelming?
Admittedly, you may have a hard time pulling your kids away from their video games, but once you do, the benefits of an active family fitness program are worth it! And, coming up with fun, health-focused activities is easier than you may think.
1. Start Slowly. If you tell everyone that they are going to be doing an hour long yoga program every night, they are likely to balk at the idea of a family fitness plan. Sometimes you need to be a little more subtle. Big changes can cause push back. Remember, little things can make a big difference.
Instead of driving to the ice cream parlour after dinner, ride your bikes or walk. That way, you aren't taking away the enjoyment of a treat, you are just making everyone work a little harder for it! As your family becomes more accustomed to physical activity, your options will broaden.
2. Get Everyone Involved. It's hard to find activities that everyone likes, but people are more likely to get involved if they feel they have a say in the final decision. You might want to take turns choosing the activity so everyone get to do what they like best, or you may be able to combine activities such as biking to a swimming pool or walking to a library. There is no point in choosing something that your family doesn't enjoy doing together or no one will stick to the program.
3. Make Exercise Fun. A family fitness program can be as structured or as flexible as you want. For example, you would have to make a commitment to a specific time and activity if you signed up for a martial arts class or decided to take dance lessons as a family.
But, if you want something a little more relaxed, you can vary your activities. You might decide to go for a bike ride one day and play soccer at the local park on the next day. Getting fit is about being more active, and that can be anything from an organized baseball game to washing the family car. If you make it fun and enjoyable, everyone will get fit without even realizing that they are actually exercising.
4. Schedule Family Fitness Time. We all start things with good intentions but then life gets in the way and throws a wrench into our plans. Set aside time specifically for family activities and do your best to stick to it. If you don't schedule it in, it probably won't happen.
5. Keep Your Options Open. Have the equipment available for a lot of different activities, that way your family can choose whatever suits their mood on any given day. If you have baseballs, soccer balls, bikes, helmets, walking shoes, gardening tools, dance music, or whatever other items you can think of on hand, your options are endless and you are more likely to find something that will get everyone off the couch and moving in a positive direction.
6. Turn Off the Television. With smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers it's becoming harder to control the amount of television and social media families watch. Whether you want to limit the number of hours that devices are used or simply have certain times of day when all electronics must be turned off, having a technology-free time will encourage more activity. After all, if your kids can't play video games from 4-6 pm anyway, they are more likely to participate in a family activity.
7. Keep Healthy Snacks Handy. If little foxes spoil the vine then snack foods spoil a diet. It's the chips and candy and vending machine snacks that really pack on the pounds. A little nibble here, a little taste there, and before we know it, the scale is no longer our friend.
If you replace junk food with healthier options, you will feel less guilty about snacking and more confident that you are giving your children the nutrition they need. And, healthy snacks do not need to be tasteless. There are a lot of great recipes that will trick your family into thinking they are enjoying a treat when they are actually fuelling their body with essential vitamins and minerals. Click Here for more information on Healthy and Convenient Snacks.
While there are literally hundreds of great ideas for starting a family fitness program, here are a few to get you going or help inspire your own creative thinking;
There are many more creative ideas on starting a family fitness program. The key is to find something that you will enjoy doing as a family and make getting active a priority. The benefits of a healthy active lifestyle as a family are plentiful. It will not only improve health and fitness, but it will also draw you closer together, strengthen the family bonds, and build memories that will last a lifetime.
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I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or ideas you would like to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum