A great New Year’s resolution you can start at any time of the year: a commitment to be more active and health conscious as a family. Encouraging physical activity in your family can be a little difficult with all these screens in our lives, but it can be done!
Seven Effective Tips for encouraging physical activity in your family
To get everyone on board, there are a few tricks you can use.
Start With Healthy Eating
It’s hard to sell the message that fitness is important if you stock the fridge with juice boxes. It’s also hard when you stock your pantry with cookies and chips. Start my making a few “healthy food” swaps. Gradually increase healthy food choices such as protein powder, and:
- organic fruits
- snack-sized organic vegetables
- organic and grass-fed lean meats
Don’t make the changes all at once or your family may balk. Another trick is to begin buying smaller portions of snack foods. For example, instead of purchasing a party-sized bag of chips, buy two snack bags in everybody’s favorite flavor. That way, each family member has control over when they get their treat, and the larger size doesn’t become a never-ending trough of chips. This is a great way to encourage your family to be a bit healthier.
Schedule Physical Activity
Make physical activity part of every day or at least part of every week for your family. Just like you schedule in a hair appointment or an art class, create a schedule that includes family walks. Or trampoline time. While junior is at baseball practice, the rest of the family can walk around the perimeter of the field. Maybe even play on the playground. Aim for 300 minutes a week, and if most of those minutes occur on the weekend, that’s okay.
Increase Your Time Being Active
In the beginning just getting everyone away from their computer may be a chore, so don’t make it worse by planning a five-mile hike the first day out. Sell the outing as a quick walk around the block. The next day make it two blocks and so on until everyone is active for at least 30 minutes at a stretch. Add longer periods of activity on the weekends to build up to the 300-minute-a-week goal. This is a great way to slowly encourage your family to be more active.
One way to create buy-in from the family is buy each member something that helps them stay active. For example, a family trip to the shoe store to get everyone new tennis shoes can stir up excitement for the upcoming walk or hike. A new ball will beg to be bounced around. Setting up a badminton net for the backyard will create family fun. Letting everyone choose their own color yoga mat will make stretching time more personal for the youngest members of your family.
Vary the Activities
Let everyone in the family have a hand in choosing your longer weekend activities. Create a master list to choose from that can contain options to get moving such as a family dance contest, neighborhood bike ride, YouTube Zumba class, basketball game or Pickleball tournament. Be sure to include some options for rainy, cold or hot weather also. Allowing everyone to choose their activities can help to create a stronger family bond and encourage them to stay physically active.
Take It Off Site
Make a 60-mile sweep around your town and discover what else is out there with a little drive. Discover a bird sanctuary or botanical garden in a neighboring city. Your family could easily spend an hour walking around such places. Not every outing has to include running, hiking or swimming. The point is to get away from the screens and to do something active.
Track Your Progress
Kids are very visual, so create a chart showing your goal of how many minutes the family should be active each week. Let kids take turns coloring or putting stickers on the chart after each activity. Build in rewards every couple of weeks, so everyone knows what they’re working towards. Rewards can be simple like a trip to the ice cream parlor or a family movie night with popcorn. If you’re going to miss your goal by a few minutes, add in some chores such as raking leaves or mopping the floors that can help your family reach their minutes.
To encourage your family to keep moving and being active, set the precedent with your own enthusiasm which should (hopefully) be contagious. If need be, buy a whistle and let everyone take a turn being the “coach” and motivator each week.
About the Writer: Paisley Hansen is a freelance writer and expert in health and fitness.
She also developed a passion for traveling during her college years. Today she spends most of her time writing about the things she loves.