Encouraging your kids to get active at an early age is great for their development and often leads to a lifelong habit. As parents, you can model healthy exercising habits by finding ways to fit physical activity into your family’s daily lives. The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends that children and teens engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily. This hour does not need to be done all at once but can be divided into shorter chunks throughout the day to more easily fit into your family’s schedule. If you’re worried about fitting in at least one hour of daily physical activity for your family, remember that exercise does not have to mean strict gym workouts. Instead of thinking about how you can set aside chunks of time for these types of workouts, try to think about exercise as simply leading an active lifestyle that can be spread throughout your whole day. Remember that family exercise time doubles as family quality time, so use it to get creative and turn every day into a chance to get active and have fun together. In today’s blog we thought it would be helpful to suggest some easy ways to make physical activity a household priority for your family.
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Get Outside with Fun Outdoor Activities
It is easy to let the colder temperatures keep us inside but caving into weather has negative impacts on your overall health. We recommend fighting against tendencies to avoid the outdoors to improve your mental and physical health. Sunlight boosts our vitamin D levels which have plenty of health benefits including the promotion of calcium absorption and immune functions while also reducing inflammation. Getting outside is also great for fighting seasonal blues because exercise and sunlight together gets our blood flowing, raises our serotonin levels, and provides our organs with the nutrients and energy to keep us happy and healthy.
There are plenty of quick and easy ways to accumulate your family’s 60 minutes without going to a gym. Instead, get outside and do some more fun outdoor activities that can change with the seasons. In the colder months try activities like hiking or walking, cross country or down-hill skiing, sledding, ice skating or hockey, or playing in the snow. When the snow melts, you can adapt your outdoor activity routine to include more exercises made for the warmer months with things like bike rides or swimming. Remember that getting active outside does not need to be really well thought out or planned because it can be as simple as a last-minute game of tag or catch. Head out to your local parks in Kitchener or Baden to get some fresh air and sneak in some family exercise.
Schedule Family Playtime
A trick to fitting physical activity into your family's schedule is to make it a habit. This way, you and your children get used to doing certain activities every week without any conscious effort. These habits don't have to be boring or something you dread each week, try to incorporate more interesting exercises that don't really feel like work. We recommend taking a family walk before or after dinner, having a weekly sports night with rotating sports, or going on weekly family outings to do things that involve movement like bowling or mini golf. These are all things that get your family up and moving in a fun way that doubles as quality time. You can even make household chores a fun and active event by putting on some upbeat music and dancing as you clean. Try to make up games or narratives for each chore to peak younger children's interest or offer rewards for chore completion. Don't just leave the chores to the kids though, make sure the adults also participate in chore time so you can get them done as a family.
Limit Screen Time
The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation suggests that recreational screen time in front of TV's, computers, tablets, and phones should be limited at no more than two hours a day. Applying restrictions on how much time your children spend in front of screens is important because it also helps reduce the time they spend sitting every day. Try to turn screen time into exercise with interactive video games that require some sort of physical activity like sport or dance games. You can also put some instructional dance videos on your TV for some added screen time activity. If your family loves movies or TV shows, try to encourage timed or commercial fitness breaks to break up how long your children are sitting down and inactive.
Mix It Up
Prevent your family from getting bored with exercising by changing up your routine whenever you see fit. Encourage everyone to try a new sport or activity, take your family somewhere new to fit in some physical exercise, or attend a new fitness class like our Pilates sessions. Mixing up your activities is a great way to keep things fresh and exciting so exercise never feels like a bore. Check out your local recreation centres in Kitchener or Baden for a whole list of fun indoor and outdoor events and activities to jump start your motivation.
Keep these four tips in mind whenever you feel like your family needs to squeeze in some more physical activity. Remember that your family’s exercise routine can be spread out throughout your week to more easily fit into your schedule and can be used to increase your family bonding time as well. Take it day by day and try not to overdo it at the beginning – let your family ease into an active lifestyle.
Want more lifestyle advice on how to improve your overall health and wellness? Contact our team at Livewell Health and Physiotherapy for more tips and don't forget to view our other services that can help put you on the right track.
Blog Contest Question: What are some ways you encourage your family to stay active?