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Helping Your Family Become More Active

12.06.2011 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

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WOW's contributing personal trainer, Becky Johnson, shares her tips on tacking fitness together as a family in this week's nutrition post. Have your own fitness questions? Leave them in the comments section below!

With the holidays upon us, there will undoubtedly be more family time- so let’s make it fun! However, what do you do when the people you love the most seem to be in a pattern of sedentary living?

Sometimes I think my boys interact with Xbox more than me! Don’t get me wrong, they are active kids, but as parents we need to create a balance. It can be tough to stick with a fitness routine when you’re the only physically active person in your house. Here are a few tips to help your family build a healthy, active lifestyle.

START WITH A HEART TO HEART

Helping kids become more active is much easier when both adults are on the same page. If your spouse or partner is not, have a discussion and explain how important this is to you. This may be the motivation that gets them moving!

Sit down with your family and explain why you want to spend more time moving and less time sitting around. According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years. Seventeen percent of children  and adolescents (or 12.5 million) aged 9-12 are obese.

Childhood obesity has immediate and long-term effects on health and well being, including pre-diabetes and higher risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Adult obesity claims 33.8% of U.S. adults. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type two diabetes and certain types of cancer. In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion. These are the cold hard facts.

Let’s look at some more reasons to get fit together:

- more energy and endurance to do fun things together as a family.
- helping your children and teens develop a lifelong habit of physical activity for optimal well-being.
- promotes good brain health
- it’s a natural mood elevator
- promotes a positive body image
- creates a tighter family bond

FOCUS ON FUN

When you love somebody, you want the best for him or her, including the best of health. Despite your good intentions, your kids and spouse may or may not be interested or ready to become more physically active. Nagging can push people in the opposite direction,

Why not appeal to their sense of adventure instead and look for fun ways to be active as a family!What about going to the playground, swimming, bowling, canoeing or hiking. Through these types of experiences, families can learn that being active is much more fun and rewarding than sitting in front of a computer or TV screen.

Here are a few more activities you can do together:

- Bike to the library or store.
- Train for a charity walk or run.
- Train for school fitness tests together.
- Wash the car.
- Spend an hour doing yard work. Rake the leaves and jump in them!
- Walk the dog.
- Put some music on and dance like crazy!
- Anything where you play together. Kids love you attention. Praise the effort, not the results. Ask your child to teach YOU something new. Let them show off their expertise.

ENCOURAGE ACTIVE PLAY

Adults and children both benefit from active play and unstructured time for recreation, discovery and enjoyment. Whether or not you have a yard, keep a simple supply of basic sports equipment on hand, such as balls, mitts, racquets, hula-hoops and Frisbees. If you don’t have outdoor space to play at home, take your gear to a local park, school or community center for some family fun.

There are two organizations that I think are excellent in promoting active lifestyles for kids (and grown ups too). The NFL Play60 is the National Football League’s campaign aimed at encouraging kids to be active for 60 minutes a day in order to reverse childhood obesity.

The second is First Lady Michelle Obama’s nationwide movement called, "Let’s Move." It’s a comprehensive initiative dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation. Check them out!

A LASTING GIFT

Set a good example for your family by limiting your own screen time and becoming as active as possible. Parents are powerful role models. Chances are good when your kids see you having fun working out, they’ll want to join you.

Helping your family move more and sit less is a powerful act of love. A lifelong habit of physical activity will create healthier and happier families, and may even expand your longevity. What better gift to share with the ones you love during the holiday season!

Stay Healthy and Fit,
- Becky

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