The last few weeks our “Wellness Wednesday” blogs have featured some back to school health tips, we conclude our series this week with tips on fitting in family fitness.
The new school year is a great time to start new healthy habits like fitting in fitness. According to the CDC, children should aim to get 60 minutes of activity a day. By making fitness a family affair you can help your child meet this daily goal. (Plus, you will get fit too!) Here are some ideas to help get you started:
1. Limit screen time for the family. Make it family “policy” that activity comes before screen time (TV, computer, video games). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children have less than two hours of screen time per day, and viewing should be avoided for children under 2. An interesting fact, in 1999 statistics showed children and adolescents spent 3 hours a day watching television. Today kids are now spending more than 7 hours per day using televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices for entertainment. As a family, set some guidelines for screen time.
2. Create a family fitness calendar and idea jar. As a family sit down and brain storm ideas for physical activity. Write down each idea on a separate piece of paper and place papers in a jar. Have each family member draw a piece of paper from the “activity jar”. Looking at your family calendar, schedule the “activity” into your week. Some fun activities suggestions to get you started:
- Game of tag
- Kick ball
- Scavenger hunt
- Hop Scotch
- Hula hoop
Display your fitness calendar on your refrigerator (or other central location)—not only will this help remind everyone of the plans; it shows your children the value you place on good health.
3. Active toys. It doesn’t cost a lot to purchase a few toys that encourage your child to be active. Things like balls, Frisbees, jump ropes, hula hoops, skate boards and bikes are great toys that encourage activity.
4. Enroll in an activity. There are many activities for children through the school districts, YMCA’s and community education. A helpful hint: make sure the activities your child enrolls in is an activity he/she likes and focus on the “fun” of the activity—not the performance.
5. Model, model, model. Children follow the behaviors of parents, if your child sees you active; chances are they will want to join you!
These are just a few tips to help you and your family walk the steps on the road to fitness. The important thing to remember is make fitness “fun” and not something else you/your child needs to check off the to do list. You are creating habits that will last a lifetime for your family. The gift of good health is the best gift!