Want to Improve Your Health? Get Off the Couch and Get Your Family Moving!

— Written By Christine Smith and last updated by

On cold and snowy days like today the thought of exercise is near the bottom of your to-do-list if it’s there at all. Most of us are more inclined to sleep in late, curl up with a good book, and munch throughout the day. However, there is mounting evidence that  combining a healthy diet with a variety of physical activity is the best way to improve your health.

According to First Lady Michelle Obama, “The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake.” So come on, don’t give up, let’s focus on being healthy. Take advantage of this time together to get your family involved in charting a course for a healthy and active lifestyle. Here are a few ideas you may want to try.

Go outside and play in the snow. Take advantage of getting outside and exercising in the winter season. Remember how much you enjoyed being outside during the winter as a kid? Follow the kid’s lead and become reinvigorated by the fun promised with winter exercising and outdoor play. Build a snowman, slide down a hill, skate, walk or run in the snow or throw snow balls. So much fun and kids love it! Remember to dress warmly and layer up with lots of long sleeves, pants, socks, gloves, and heavy coats protecting your hands, feet and ears.

Find time to spend together doing fun activities. Plan a family park day to cookout, hike the trails, play ball, sack races, swim, or bike.  Some parks even have guided walks and family fun days. You may also want to purchase some family friendly aerobic DVD’s for cold and rainy days. This is a perfect way to engage the entire family and spend quality time together.

Make a new house rule: no sitting doing TV commercials. Challenge kids to take turns leading fitness breaks doing this time. This gets the kids involved in doing something fun and challenges parents to participate in the activity. Dancing is an excellent activity that can be enjoyed by all. Play a variety of music and watch how much fun this can be. Teach your children dance moves from your generation and have them show you moves from theirs. Fun and laughter bundled into one.

Take a class together. Inquire at fitness clubs and community centers about programs being offered for families. Some options may include yoga or aerobics classes, and swimming. It’s a good idea to discuss options as a family. You will get the best results if you pick a family fitness option that is pre-approved by all.

Plan and cook a meal together. When I was growing up Mom saw this as a way to help the kids learn a life skill and work together to prepare the family meal.

Take kids to the farmer’s market. Let them pick their own fruits and vegetables and involve them in the food preparation.  They’re much more likely to enjoy their meals – and to clean their plates.

These are just a few ideas to make family time active and promote quality fun time together. Brainstorm with your family to expand the list and to keep them engaged. Being physically active helps children and adults build and maintain strong bones, maintain a healthy weight and increase fitness levels, boosts energy and promotes sound sleep. Best of all its great fun for the entire family and helps you feel good about yourself. And remember: Families that PLAY together STAY together.

Thoughts to Ponder

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.  ~Jim Ryan

Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.  ~ Plato

Christine Smith is an Extension Agent in the department of Family & Consumer Sciences with N.C. Cooperative Extension, NCSU, Wayne County. Information on other services available can be found online at http://wayne.ces.ncsu.edu/ or call me at 731-1525 for additional information.

Written By

Photo of Christine SmithChristine SmithExtension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences (919) 731-1525 christine_smith@ncsu.eduWayne County, North Carolina
Posted on Jan 31, 2014
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