A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Make exercise more fun with family

Badge of family fitness seriesEditor’s note: This is the third post in a series dedicated to celebrating the month of May as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.  Next week: Top tips for exercising with diabetes, nerve damage

If you’re yearning for your kids to step away from the screen and spend more of their summer vacation outside, plan an activity the whole family can try.

“It’s fun, you enjoy the benefits of physical activity, and it brings families closer together,” said Dr. Antoinette Hayek, a Marshfield Clinic family physician.

Family exercise: Good for health, confidence & your wallet

Parents who are physically active set a good example and help kids develop healthful habits. Regular activity prevents obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure for the whole family.

Getting active together is a good way for parents to help kids build confidence as they master new skills and teach them about fair play, Hayek said.

Plus, many family activities require little or no equipment and often are less expensive than a trip to the movie theater.

The best part about family exercise? It doesn’t have to seem like a chore.

Try these 7 family activities:

  • Hiking. Pick a path with an incline (in other words – a hill), for a good cardio challenge. Let kids climb and explore and talk about what you see and hear.
  • Jog to the playground or park. Make a game out of racing each other, and try out the monkey bars.
  • Soccer. Take turns playing on teams and being the goalie, or practice dribbling and kicking.
  • Tennis. Walk or bike to a nearby tennis court and play singles or doubles with your kids, or practice your swing in your driveway or against the side of your house.
  • Swimming. When you take your kids to the pool or beach, splash around with them.
  • Bicycling. Ride to your destination instead of driving, or pick a safe spot for a friendly race. Don’t forget to wear your helmet and talk to your kids about hand signals and traffic safety before you head out.
  • Baseball. Practice swinging and pitching at the park or in your yard. If you have younger kids, try T-ball, playing catch or running bases.

By the time you’re done, you won’t even realize you’ve completed the 30 minutes of physical activity recommended for adults or the 60 minutes recommended for kids.

Bonus for parents – exercise burns energy and helps kids sleep better at night, Hayek said. Now, that’s a win for everyone.

Check out the other posts in our May fitness series

Week 2: Kids’ exercise: The key to building better bones

Week 1: Balance-building exercises for fall prevention

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