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Fitness Tips for the Family

Fitness Tips for the Whole Family


In today's fast-paced world, it can be challenging for families to find the time for physical activity or fitness. In fact, recent research shows that many kids and their parents are not exercising at all. This has resulted in increased overweight and obesity in America's youth and it can lead to serious problems like heart attacks and diabetes later in life. Exercise provides health benefits and it's also a fun way for families to spend time together. To help you get started, the following are some tips provided by The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

1. Become A Role Model For Your Family
Each of us learns by example. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, child or family friend, you can be the person to motivate your loved ones to become fit. If watching TV every evening is your routine, turn it off and create "family walk time" instead. Make fitness a priority in your life and others will too.

2. Make Fitness Fun
One of the major reasons people don't stick with a fitness routine is because they become bored. Children are especially prone to short attention spans, so think about some creative ways to turn your family exercise time into an adventure. Try a "scavenger hunt:" list 4 or 5 items for children to look for on a walk - a leaf, bottle cap, etc. At the end of the walk, the child with the most items selects the next adventure.

3. Be Prepared
Be sure to get ready for your family fitness time by warming up first. Try a few minutes of brisk walking then stretching before any activity. Also keep safety in mind by wearing appropriate headgear or pads if cycling or skating. (Moms and dads, this means you, too.)

4. Don't Let Rainy Days Keep You Down
Any kind of weather can mean fitness fun when you are creative. Play "Twister" or other indoor activity games that require some physical movement. Build an obstacle course in the basement or garage. Or use an indoor bench or steps for a step-aerobic workout. Invent a new dance and name it after your family or share dances from each generation in your family. The options are endless.

5. All Together Now
It's not always easy to find activities that appeal to all generations, but it's possible. Biking and walking are great aerobic family workouts. For families with infants, "joggers" or traditional strollers, backpacks, bike trailers and bike seats let your youngest family member participate even if he or she is too young to walk or sit up.

6. Combine Fitness, Family and Community
It's always fun to exercise with a group and there are lots of ways to do this. Organize a block party and host a family "Olympic" competition with various physical activities. Walk in neighborhood parades and charity fund-raisers. Take a "history" walk or cycling tour. Organize a group mall walk - especially in bad weather.

7. Give the Gift Of Fitness
Birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions are also a great to time let someone know you care about them with a gift that promotes physical activity. Examples include toys that promote active participation (bikes, push toys or climbing structures for kids; sports equipment or recreation-related getaways for adults.) Often, these type of gifts provide cherished memories as well as an interest in fitness for years to come.

8. Beyond Competition, Focus on Fun
It's sometimes easy for a parent to focus more on their child's success in sports than on the joys of playing and working with the team. This is especially true with interscholastic sports. It's ok to be engaged, but overemphasis on competition is a key reason why many kids drop out of organized sports. When things become too serious, a lot of kids get turned off to physical activity in general. Remember that fitness should be fun!

9. It's The Simple Things
Think about everyday opportunities to get physically active with your family. There are always household chores and yard work to be done, but they can be much more fun when everyone works together. Even the youngest members of the family can help!

10. Leave a Fitness Legacy
Just like a cherished photo, a valued heirloom or a family tradition, a love of fitness can be passed from one generation to the next. The gift of physical activity and health is a priceless one - one that you and your entire family will value for life. One great way to build a legacy is to work together to earn the President's Active Lifestyle Awards (PALA), available both for young people and adults through the President's Challenge program via

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Jennifer Schaub