Fitness Tips for the Whole Family

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The research proves it: kids who grow up with healthy habits are far more likely to grow into healthy, physically fit adults. If you love your family, the very best thing you can do is to make fitness part of your normal routine. These ideas can help you get your family active and promote a physically active, healthy lifestyle.

Let Them Play Video Games

Have you ever watched a little kid play a video game? Even before the advent of the Wii and other motion-sensor game consoles, little kids really get into their games. They jump, twist and turn in all directions as they play. The Wii has brought in a whole other element to video game play. Stock the video game shelf with active games that require dancing, moving, jumping and running — and play along with them. Run regular “family tournaments” to make exercise fun.

Take a Walk

Every day, or at least a few times a week, take a family walk together. If you start young, it will become an ingrained habit. It can be a daily after-dinner stroll around the block or a weekly hike in the woods.

Schedule Weekly Fitness Activities

Just don’t call them that. Make some time every week to spend time being active as a family. It can be a specific weekly activity, such as swimming at the Y, or a series of outings and activities they enjoy: horseback riding one week, a hike in the mountains the next and an afternoon at the rock-climbing wall a third. As your kids get older, the activities can be more varied and interesting: instead of a rock-climbing wall, head out to the cliffs for a try at the real thing.

Budget for Fitness

While it doesn’t have to cost anything to exercise — a walk in the park is free, after all — but some fun activities cost money. Budget money for gym membership fees, or to pay the signup fees for Little League, or to pay for dance lessons and gymnastics. Let your kids lead the way on activities that draw them and budget what they need to support their interests.

Be an Active Participant

When your kids imagine adult life, you are their template. If you send them off to exercise while you lounge on the sofa and watch television, they’ll grow up believing that adults get to lay around and watch television. Model the behaviors you want them to emulate. Join a gym and work out regularly. Go skiing with them. Jump into the pool. When you’re physically active, you’re giving them the message that this is something adults do.

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