Obesity is on the rise in all age groups so tackling obesity as a family may help address bad exercise habits. In the last two decades the number of overweight and obese children has more than doubled, putting them at risk to become overweight or obese adults with serious problems such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and even psychological and social problems.
Exercising as a family and asking family walks or bike rides are just a few simple ways to get everyone physically involved and interacting. Plus, it helps parents to teach their kids how to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.
Limiting sedentary activities for kids such as TV, video games and computer time and encouraging them to play outside is one of the easiest ways to get kids exercising.
Keys to motivating family exercise:
- Find out what your children like to do and make this a focus of your family activities.
- Keep the word “exercise” out of your vocabulary. Instead, promote “play time” and encourage activities that are fun and physical such as hop-scotch, jumping rope, tag or hide-and-go-seek.
- Use family walks or bike rides as a time to do more than just exercise together.
- Try planning social outings to involve physical activity such as taking the family out dancing or roller-skating.
- Make it a rule to leave the television off one day a week. This encourages physical activity and outdoor play.
- Don't make exercise a chore or work; keep it light and enjoyable.
- Vary the activities, and let your children take turns choosing what the family will do.
- Trips to the park, zoo or miniature golf course can be fun and involve a lot of walking.
- Try to be available as much as possible when your children play games such as tag, capture the flag, or kickball.
The kids will probably resist at first but by making it part of the family routine and involving the older kids in planning activities, family exercise will become a normal part of life. Whether you are a single parent, a step-family or a blended family, family exercise should be at the core of your family life.
The Benefits of Family Exercise
- Boost energy level
- Improve balance, coordination and flexibility
- Improve circulation
- Strengthen the heart, lungs, bones and muscles
- Burn the fat and calories you consume throughout the day
- Help you sleep better at night
- Reduce stress and depression
- Reduce the risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Exercise also improves self-image
Family Exercise and Obesity Rates
With less than half of all Americans considered at a healthy weight and the number of overweight and obese children in the United States more than doubling in the last two decades, the outlook for the future is a new generation of obese and unhealthy adults.
Exercise is a key component of maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. Nearly half of Americans aged 12-21 are not physically active on a regular basis and about 14 percent of young people report no recent physical activity. Its time to take action now and combat our unhealthy lifestyles.
Family exercise can teach our kids to stay healthy for the rest of their lives.