You might think that the goal for children to be moderately physically active for 60 minutes seems like a lot of time. Life does get busy, but it doesn’t have to stop you from moving as much as you should to stay healthy.
By getting active, you’re using calories you store up from everything you eat over the course of a day. Everything your family eats and drinks (from what you eat for breakfast to what you drink with dinner) is stored as energy. If this stored energy isn’t used, it creates an imbalance that can lead to weight gain.
When we talk about moving more, you and your kids don’t have to train like athletes. Some types of physical activity and exercise can burn a lot of energy. But everyday activities use energy, too. Simply parking farther away from the grocery store and walking the extra distance can use more energy.
It’s up to you to choose the activities that are right for you and your family. And, it’s also up to you to stick with it. It is easy to spend a lot of time sitting in front of your phone or television.
It’s the same for kids. They spend hours sitting at their school desks, sitting at home doing homework, and sitting in front of the TV or cellphone.
The benefits of moving more as a family
Small steps that get your family to move more can help all of you maintain a healthy weight. Fight the urge to slouch on the couch. Instead, get up and go. Set an example for the kids in your life.
Moving more can do more than just help your waistline, it can make you healthier by:
- Relieving stress
- Improving your sleep
- Making your bones and muscles stronger
- Making you feel full of energy
- Building strength and endurance
- Helping you feel good about yourself
- Giving you something to do when you’re bored
- Providing a way to connect to family and friends
Make moving more a family project. Encourage everyone to think of fun things to do to get up and moving, get off the sofas, and away from the screens—especially by doing things as a family.
- Identify free times. Keep track of your daily activities for one week. Pick two 30-minute time slots you could use for family activity time.
- Add physical activity to your daily routine. For example, walk the dog with your children, exercise while you watch TV, or park farther away from your destination.
- Try doing something active after dinner with your family. Or on weekends.
- Don’t let certain times of year be a barrier. Develop a set of activities for you and your family that are always available regardless of weather, such as indoor cycling, indoor swimming, stair climbing, rope skipping, mall walking, dancing, and active games that you can play indoors.
- Celebrate special occasions with something active. These include birthdays or anniversaries. You can go for a hike, a volleyball game, a dance contest, or a Frisbee match.
- Set up a party or other social event with activities that get people moving. For instance dancing or having a jump rope contest.
- Play with your kids. You can ask them to join you for an exercise video or fitness game.
- Buy a set of hand weights and play a round of Simon Says with your kids. You do it with the weights, they do it without.
- Give yourself a gold star with non-food related rewards. For example a family day at the park, lake, or zoo.
- Choose activities you enjoy. Ask children what activities they want to do.
- Plan ahead. Make physical activity a regular part of your family’s schedule. Write it on a family activity calendar.
- Join an exercise group or class. Sign your children up for community sports teams or lessons.
Build new skills
- Take a class to develop new skills and enroll your children in classes too. These include classes such as swimming, dancing, or tennis.
More tips for walking more and moving more
1. Walk whenever possible
- Walk instead of drive, whenever you can.
- Walk your children to school.
- Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator.
- Take a family walk after dinner.
- Replace a Sunday drive with a Sunday walk.
- Go for a half-hour walk instead of watching TV.
- Get off the bus a stop early, and walk.
- Park farther from the store and walk.
- Make a Saturday morning walk a family habit.
- Walk briskly in the mall.
- Take the dog on longer walks.
- Go up hills instead of around them.
2. Move more in your home
- Do yard work. Get your children to help rake, weed, or plant.
- Work around the house. Ask your children to help with active chores.
- Do sit-ups in. Have a sit-up competition with your kids.
Use available resources with your family
- Select activities that don’t need costly sports gear, such as walking, jogging, jumping rope, or doing push-ups.
- Identify cheap, local resources in your area, such as programs through your community center, park or recreation group, or worksite.