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Making Activity a Part of the Family's Routine

Por Leslie Rodríguez, RD, LD* -

Do you want to keep your family as healthy as possible? Be a role model!  Promote daily physical activity among your family members. Try to include family members in your exercise routine as much as possible.

You don’t have to go to the gym or run alone to get healthy; the entire family can participate in many of your exercise activities. Many parents feel guilty about exercising because they think it takes time away from their children, but by exercising with your children, you can feel better about yourself and about your family’s health.

There are many things you can do to make exercise family-friendly. Try as many of the options as possible. Find out what works for you and your family. Start by talking to your spouse about your exercise goals and the effect they'll have on your family. Always maintain a positive attitude about exercising. Encourage and support each other’s activities, and start thinking about exercise differently. You don't have to walk, jog, bike, or go to a gym every time you want to exercise; doing yard work or housecleaning burns calories and provides health benefits too.

Try walking with family members. Young children, however, may prefer to ride their bicycles while you (and your spouse) walk or jog. When you stroll around the neighborhood, have your children choose different routes to help them get excited about exercising. Incorporate some other activities into your walk to keep your children’s minds busy. For example, have them count how many dogs they see. If your neighborhood is too busy for outdoor family fun, try a local track where your children can play on the infield. Most schools open their tracks to the public after school hours.

If you want to change your routine, plan unique family outings on a regular basis. A hike in a park, skating, swimming in the local pool, playing soccer in a nearby field, or bicycling on a paved path are some options. Choose fun and enjoyable activities for everyone so nobody gets bored. Or, invite other families to join you so you can participate in team activities.

You can even include small babies in the activities. There are a variety of baby joggers/strollers on the market, which are great for exercising with your youngest one. Parents can use a front pack for small infants and change to a backpack once the baby can hold up his/her head. You can put attachments on the back of your bike to take your infant cycling with you. Do not, however, wear headphones. You might not hear important noises around you, such as a car honking.

If your children are active in baseball, football, soccer, or cheerleading leagues, walk around the fields or park while they practice. You can watch them as you walk around. Encourage other parents to come along. This will promote parental camaraderie.

Pets are often very important parts of families. If you have a dog, don’t forget to include him/her in your activities. Bring your dog along whenever you go out for family outings.

By adopting exercise as a part of your family routine, you'll teach your children about healthy lifestyle habits. Your children will be more likely to continue healthy activities throughout their lives, making them healthier individuals. It will also be easier for you to stay in shape if your family understands the importance of exercise and is willing to make the commitment with you.

*Specialist in sports nutrition and physical activity with MyDiet™


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