I have found that one of the very best ways to get children active is for them to see adults having fun doing it. Like anything in life, children learn from observing their peers, their teachers and especially their parents. It is important for parents to set the tone for the level of physical activity in the home so that the children have a firm foundation for being healthy. It’s the old saying of “monkey see, monkey do.” My children hear me tell them the importance of being active and healthy, but they also see me going for runs, we ride bikes together, we go to the park and I chase them around, we take our dog for walks, they help me pick out healthy food at the grocery store. It is one thing to tell your children to be healthy, but you also have to show them. Plus, it is a great way to spend good, quality time together as a family.
Family fitness takes some parental commitment, leadership and a touch of imagination. You don’t have to run a marathon or be in top physical shape to do active things with your family. There are several things you can do together that are cost effective, convenient and fun! The more active you are with your family, the more fun you will have and the better shape you will be in.
Family fitness doesn’t have to be expensive. Sure, you can drop a couple of hundred dollars or more taking the family skiing. But you can find a slope and sled down it on plastic trash bags for free. Most communities have free or low-cost family activities at community centers or parks. Check your local newspaper or parks and recreation department, and use your imagination to come up with activities your family can do together that don’t break the bank. There are several free activities in previous articles – check them out!
Families are busy, and convenience is essential to a family fitness plan. If you have to go through a lot of hassle or travel a long way on a regular basis, you won’t follow through. You should plan activities that you can do in your own backyard or neighborhood, like tossing a Frisbee or going on a daily walk/jog. With fall still in full swing in most places, you can rake up leaves and jump in the pile. Joining a bowling league is a great way to keep the family involved.
Fun is the key to successful family fitness. If everybody has fun, you will all want to do it again. Make sure to take a quick survey after every family fitness event and see who had fun, what was good about the activity and what could be done differently next time. Everyone in the family needs to be involved in planning the activities. Have a family meeting, and come up with a list of activities your family wants to try. Take everybody miniature golfing for a birthday instead of having a cake-and-ice-cream party. Celebrate a holiday by going on a 5K family fun walk together (there are several of these each month, do a search online). Walk around your neighborhood at Christmas and enjoy the lights. Bring fun and activity together as often as you can, and you and your family will begin to associate an active lifestyle with having fun. The point is to make this a fun experience for the whole family. The more fun, the higher rate of success you will experience.
Every member of your family needs to feel successful at whatever activities your family chooses. They don’t all have to be good at the activity as long as they enjoy it and feel good about themselves doing it. When families pursue fitness together, they are not only promoting a healthy lifestyle, they are also building memories that will last a lifetime.
Until next time,
Today’s Fun Fact: The world’s first installed parking meter was in Oklahoma City, on July 16, 1935. Carl C. Magee, of Oklahoma City, is generally credited with originating the parking meter. He filed for a patent for a “coin controlled parking meter” on May 13, 1935.