A healthy, active family is a happy family. Making exercise a family event sets an example for your children that exercise is important and can be fun at the same time. A 1991 Boston University study found that young children who had physically active parents were almost six times more likely to be active as children with inactive parents. Try a variety of fitness activities until you find the ones your family enjoys the most. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that children and teenagers exercise for at least 60 minutes daily while adults should strive for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity weekly. These are just general guidelines, though; always consult a doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen.
Going for a family bike ride is a great way to meet your family’s exercise goals. Ask for family input on favorite destinations to make it a group adventure, and vary routes to keep the outings interesting. Venture to parks, nature trails and other kid-friendly landmarks. Reward the family by making your destination a fun place: the grandparents’ house, a healthy restaurant or a farmer’s market. Cycling is a terrific way for the family to get a good workout without it feeling like exercise. A one-hour bike ride can burn almost 600 calories for a 150-pound person. Don’t forget to wear helmets, and take all other proper safety precautions.
Hiking is a simple form of exercise that can easily accommodate a variety of fitness levels. Even the family dog can join the fun. Try nature preserve treks or just exploring your own neighborhood. Even if your family is not outdoors-y type, take a local hike to explore your town’s historic landmarks or other destinations of interest. A 150-pound person can burn just over 400 calories by completing a one-hour hike.
Dancing is an excellent form of cardio exercise that also teaches and reinforces flexibility and balance skills, important attributes for children who are budding athletes. Try interactive dance games using a motion-sensor-controlled device like a Wii for an activity that’ll have the whole family gyrating and giggling. Dancing is an indoor activity ideal on those rainy days when the kids are going stir crazy. While those silly moves you and the kids make may not seem like a real workout, they do burn some real calories. A 150-pound person can burn a little over 400 calories by engaging in an hour of high-energy dancing.
Swimming is an important skill for every family member to learn. Beyond that, swimming builds endurance and is a superb toning exercise. It’s also a lot of fun and a great physical activity choice during hot weather. An hour of moderate swimming burns over 400 calories for a 150-pound person.
If your family struggles to complete household chores, turn those tasks into upbeat forms of exercise. Household chores are an effective form of exercise because they engage a variety of muscles. Use challenges and a reward system to keep the family motivated while vacuuming, doing laundry and performing outdoor work like lawn maintenance and gardening. Make the reward a fun fitness activity like swimming or a healthy treat like a fresh fruit smoothie. An hour of housework burns almost 200 calories for a 150-pound person.
References & Resources
- Let’s Move: Make Physical Activity a Part of Your Family’s Routine
- The Journal of Pediatrics: Influence of Parents’ Physical Activity Levels on Activity Levels of Young Children
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Summary
- Health Status: Calorie Burn Calculator
- Centers for Disease Control: Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts