Time is one of life’s most valuable commodities. Consequently, between school, work and every day demands in today’s hectic world, family time is becoming more of a fond memory of days gone by. Additionally, television, computers, cell phones, and other technology are taking the place of family activities and interactions.
The decline in positive family interactions at home, and the increase in leading a more sedentary lifestyle, are two of the greatest threats to our children’s health and wellness.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “family has a big influence on how we perceive exercise and mental health. Exercising as a family not only gets the entire family moving to reap the benefits of exercise but also models healthy beliefs about physical activity and improves family relationships”. And with childhood obesity becoming a nationwide epidemic, getting kids moving and active is extremely vital.
As parents, we want only the best for our children’s future. Making time for simple and fun family activities can have a profound impact on the mental and physical well-being of every single family member, both young and old!
Here are some fun, budget-friendly ways to bring your loved ones closer together and get a little exercise at the same time!
1. PLAY: Avoid television for family entertainment. Go to the park and play, have a family sports night (soccer, basketball, etc.), play Frisbee, hop scotch, or get a mini trampoline.
2. PETS: If you have a dog or other pet, actively play with them as a family and even take them on a family walk.
3. SWIM: Go to the beach, lake, or public pool. Swimming is fun and lively, and your family won’t even realize they are getting exercise.
4. WALK: Walk to the store, walk to school, etc. Get pedometers for the whole family and see who can rack up the most steps. Certain ones even log your steps online or through apps, so you can expand the contest to your friends and other families.
5. ADVENTURE: Every weekend, try a new activity your family hasn’t done yet. Hiking, bowling, canoeing, ice-skating, etc., all are active exercises disguised as fun. Let each member of the family have their turn to pick the next activity, so they stay involved.
6. GYM: Join a gym that offers family discounts, and work out together. If you can afford a personal trainer, they can organize a routine for each family member.
7. WILDLIFE: Visit a zoo, wildlife preserve, or an aquarium where you’ll be walking most of the day.
8. GIFTS: When birthdays and holidays come around, give gifts that encourage fitness. Jump ropes, Frisbees, running shoes, balls, active toys, etc., can all inspire your family to get up and get moving.
9. STAIRS: Encourage your family to take the stairs, instead of the elevator, whenever possible. If they object, make a creative game out of it.
10. REWARD: Exercise can be a reward. Offer to play catch with them or play a game of kickball or capture the flag as a break from homework or chores.
11. FRIENDS: Invite your child’s friend along for any of these activities. Kids have more fun with their friends, and are more likely to want to do it again.
12. FUN: Make things fun! Build an obstacle course with your family and have everyone participate. Have hula hoop contests or play active games like hot potato, Simon Says, and Duck, Duck, Goose. The internet is a great source for finding new games to play.
13. CHORES: Household chores done as a family can be great exercise (cutting grass, cleaning, etc.). You can also make chores fun by adding a “challenge” element. Kids love challenges. “I challenge you to put away all your toys in 1 minute.” You can have a fun family reward at the end like fruit popsicles.
14. DANCE: Dancing is a great form of exercise and is a lot of fun. You can have the kids each pick their favorite song and even have themed dance nights where you dress up in funny outfits.
Kendra K is an award-winning music artist with a passion for educating and entertaining children. She is a seasoned singer, songwriter, producer, pianist and violinist with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from the University of Arizona. Kendra has worked as a physical education teacher and is also certified as a national health and fitness consultant. When Kendra is not busy writing songs and recording albums, she enjoys donating her time and talents as a children’s health advocate. Her biggest joy in life is spending time with her husband and their young son at their beach side home in the Los Angeles area.