By: Bentz P. Tozer, Jr., B.S., CPT
These days, adults and children spend more and more time out of each day watching television, playing video games and in front of their computers. Due to this fact, obesity is on the rise for all age groups, but especially in children.
Since the 1980s, childhood obesity rates have soared from 11 percent to 30 percent in developed nations, and 4 percent to 14 percent in developing nations. This truly proves that this problem is worldwide. The fatter kids are, the less healthy they will be. It’s time for parents and adults to become active role models for kids.
How can we make fitness and physical activity more important and fun for the whole family?
It sure would be great if we could improve the health of our loved ones and make it enjoyable at the same time. This family fitness project will also give members a chance to develop a stronger connection between all involved.
It’s going to work best when parents become active and set the stage for the kids.
We know that many studies show that children are much more likely to be active if their parents are active. Being active with your kids also helps give them confidence and teaches them the day-to-day skills they need. Involvement by parents as well as good communication is going to play a big role in beginning to create a household environment that fosters healthful behavior and family participation.
We know that many studies show that children are much more likely to be active if their parents are active.
The level of participation your family is ready for must be determined. If the family is on board 100 percent, the task will be to just begin to plan time for activities and choose what type of activities in which to get involved. On the other hand, if it is a struggle to get the family to do anything together, you should start out small. Just remember that creativity is going to be the key.
Here are a few ways to get started:
• Household chores can be something the whole family can help with. Cutting the grass or cleaning out the garage burn calories and give the whole body a workout. Plan something as a reward like going to a movie or out to dinner for a job well done.
• Make a date with the entire family to go to a park or recreation area. Hiking or swimming should be some options. Keep track on a map to record where you have been and how many you have visited.
• Walking the dog offers a great opportunity to be active. Everyone should take turns or go out as a group. If you don’t have a dog, offer to walk the neighbor’s dog. People who travel or work also need to have their dogs walked.
• Dance is a great calorie burner and is not formal exercise. No matter what type of dance you do, it all improves cardiovascular fitness. Look for a local dance program or just put on some music at home and throw your own dance party.
• Step up your daily activity level. Walk to the store instead of driving, or walk to your neighbor’s house instead of using the phone. Anything you can do to increase movement and activity will burn extra calories. A pedometer is a great way for your family to have a friendly contest of who can tally up the most steps per week, or set a family goal.
• Plan an active vacation. Make reservations where they have a pool or other options for activities. Go camping or hiking. Explore a city by walking together.
• Pick an activity each week. Choose one new activity the whole family will try like bowling, canoeing, ice skating, basketball, etc.
• Join a gym in your area. Many gyms offer family rates. Encourage the family to workout together. Join a group activity or work with a fitness trainer who can create an individualized plan for each family member.
Whatever you choose, remember that the latest guidelines recommend that we engage in at least one hour of aerobic physical activity each day, and three times per week those activities should be vigorous.
It is also recommended that we do muscle-strengthening activities three times per week. It may seem like a lot, but it is a small commitment compared to the many benefits and hours of quality time for you and your family.