With summer just around the corner, you may be looking for some new ways to get your family engaged in fun physical activity. But this can prove challenging—if you have a busy schedule you may find yourself already having trouble finding time to exercise, let alone incorporating your spouse’s and children’s schedules, too. The following tips from LetsMove.gov, a nationwide initiative dedicated to creating a healthier generation of Americans, can help you make an actionable plan to get the whole family and engaged in regular physical exercise.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), kids need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day, while adults only require at least 150 minutes a week. Setting specific, attainable goals will give you and your family a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve. Instead of saying you will exercise more, set a quantifiable goal like walking together around your neighborhood or at the park for 30 minutes a day. Brainstorm ideas, write them down, and keep them somewhere you will all see it every day (like tacked to the refrigerator in the kitchen), and talk about your goals during mealtimes.
Schedule Your Activity
The best way to begin increasing your family’s physical activity is to schedule time for it. Start by identifying at least three 30-minute time slots this week for activities like taking a walk, playing sports or doing active chores. Choose times of the day or week when everyone is most likely to stick to the schedule.
Add it Up
Keeping track of your family’s progress is a great way to physically see results. Having a fun chart listing everyone’s goals, with rewards for achieving those goals, can be a good way to keep your whole family motivated. An example could be sticking to doing the scheduled exercise every day for two weeks yields a trip to the zoo, or a family movie night!
If a scheduling conflict comes up, don’t cancel your exercise for the day—reschedule it! Find a new time for the activity to replace what you missed. And try to stay positive about it! If you can’t do 30 minutes of straight exercise, break the time into chunks. Doing 15 minutes of exercise before dinner and 15 minutes after is fine—the most important part is that you get moving!
To keep the momentum going or to motivate others, share your family’s goals, ideas, and activities with friends, neighbors and loved ones. Invite them to join and get moving, too!
Some Ideas to Help You Get Started
There are countless ways to enjoy exercise together as a family. Try these ideas:
- Play fun family games like freeze tag, Simon Says, or create your own family game together
- Walk the dog, go for a jog, or ride your bike around your neighborhood
- Limit TV time and keep TVs out of your children’s bedrooms
- Walk around the block after a meal
- Make a new house rule like no sitting during television commercials
- Spend time together doing something fun and active, like a family trip to the park, swim day or bike day
- Involve the whole family in household chores like cleaning, vacuuming, and yard work
- Facilitate a safe walk to and from school together—you can even invite the other kids in the neighborhood
Want more family fitness ideas? If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the Wellness Coaching program, reach out to your Wellness Coach for more healthy ideas to get—and stay—fit. And remember, talk to your doctor before beginning any new fitness regimen.