January is Family Fit Lifestyle Month, which is a great time for you and your family to work toward healthy goals together. From preparing and eating nutritious meals as a family to participating in fun activities to get you up and moving, there are so many opportunities for you and your family to help and motivate each other to make healthy choices.
Staying physically active is key to overall health and wellness. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend a minimum of 2.5 hours per week of exercise for adults and 1 hour per day for children. Regular activity is a wonderful way to spend time together, get fit, and help your kids establish healthy habits. But being active doesn’t necessarily have to feel like exercise–there are lots of ways to make it fun! Read on for some ways you and your family can have fun getting active together.
- Walking – This is by far one of the most universal exercises that nearly anyone can enjoy. It is a good weekday activity as you can always find a few minutes to take a quick walk! You don’t even have to go outside. Walk in place as you watch TV or play on the computer.
- Bike rides – With the proper equipment like helmets and awareness of traffic patterns, bike rides can be a safe and family-friendly activity. Take quick rides after dinner or plan for a longer ride every weekend. Or, if you live close to the grocery store, pharmacy, or any other place where you frequently shop, consider walking or biking there in nice weather and if it’s safe to do so. You can always add a small basket to your bicycle to help you transport a bag or two home.
- Swimming – This is another universal exercise that is great for all ages. If you have access to a community pool, school with swimming facilities, or local gym that has a pool (and will allow your children to use it), take advantage of it. There are so many games you and your family can play in the pool such as Marco Polo, Sharks and Minnows, Categories, etc. to keep you swimming while having fun.
- Visit a park – Parks are a nice place to enjoy a bike ride or walk. Some parks may even have swimming holes. Trails, nature paths and just being in the outdoors can be beneficial to both physical and mental health.
- Go to a playground – Most kids love playgrounds. From swings, slides, monkey bars and steps, these structures are built so kids can perform a variety of physical activities. You can even get exercise by running around after your child, pushing them on the swings, and helping them get across the monkey bars. If the monkey bars are high enough, you can try them too!
- Play physical games – Whether you’re in your own backyard or at a park, playground, or local field, the opportunities for physical activity are almost endless. Games like tag, Frisbee, jump rope, basketball, tennis, soccer, relay races, kickball, softball, badminton, volleyball, etc. are great ways to get your kids moving. Looking for new game ideas to keep you and your family active? Check out this list of games: PBS Kids – Zoom Games.
- Plan a family gardening day. Place the flowers to be planted, the bucket that will hold pulled-out weeds, and any dirt or mulch or garden stones across the yard. Those steps you keep taking to walk back and forth to the garden will add up!
- Instead of a family movie night, plan a family fitness night. Have healthy snacks like cut-up veggies and hummus dip, or cut-up fruit with low-fat yogurt to dip it in, and plenty of water. Rent or purchase a beginner-level fitness DVD, and do the exercises together. (As always, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.)
Healthy activities should not be limited to physical activity. There are other ways to keep your family healthy, including:
- Practicing healthy cooking together – Kids are natural helpers, so involving them in cooking can be a great way to encourage and excite them about healthy eating. Plus they may be more inclined to eat food that they help contributed to making, even if it isn’t something they normally care for. Find tips for involving kids of all ages in cooking here.
- Keep your brain healthy – Board games, puzzles, brain teasers and reading together are all great activities to help promote healthy cognitive functioning. Further improve your family’s brain health by finding a family hobby, doing crafts that promote the use of fine motor skills, or cultivating musical talents through playing instruments or singing.
For Health Advocate Members
If you are a Health Advocate member with access to the wellness coaching component of our Wellness Program, call your coach for more ideas to keep your family healthy!
Looking for more healthy tips and information? Check out the USDA’s Family Fit Lifestyle Month resource library!