What are some things my family can do together for exercise?

Exercise is equally important to a healthy lifestyle as eating right.  Staying active keeps your cardiovascular and respiratory systems strong, burns calories and boosts mood, too!  I’m so happy you want to exercise with your family because it’s a great opportunity to spend time together.  You don’t need to join a gym or a club to get exercise.  There are plenty of simple ways to stay active, especially as a family.  The trick—for kids as well as adults—is to make fitness fun, not a chore.

  • Garden.  Gardening burns more calories than you might think, and everyone can get involved.  All the digging and shoveling is a great workout for your arms and definitely gets your heart rate up.  Plus, you can look forward to harvesting your homegrown produce and cooking with it (another great family activity!).
  • Biking.There are so many bike paths in communities now that it makes it easy and safe for families to ride together.  Even cities are making it easy to rent bikes on designated paths.  Just remember the helmets and you are good to go!

    Biking as a family is a great way to get exercise and explore trails (sfbike.org)

  • Go old school.  You don’t need fancy gear: inexpensive, old-school sports equipment is usually a big hit.  Kids can keep themselves entertained for hours with simple toys like jump ropes, Frisbees, and Hula-Hoops.  They’ll love to compete with you for who can keep the Hula-Hoop off the ground the longest.  It’s a fun way to tone your core and keep hips flexible.
  • Embrace the seasons. Go swimming in the summer.  Hiking is a great activity for spring and fall.  In the winter, bundle up and build snowmen with the kids or go skiing!  Even a short walk in the snow can be good exercise—the snow makes great resistance.
  • Dance Party. Put on music at home and dance (and sing!) around the living room with your kids.  Line dances or other choreographed dances are fun for everyone.
  • Yoga Moves.  At HealthBarn USA, we are crazy about “Yoga Pretzels”—kid yoga poses based on the popular card deck of the same name. The deck features colorful and clearly drawn illustrations of basic yoga poses, adapted for children and everyone can get involved.
  • Follow the lead of the First Lady. For more inspiration on how to get kids moving, visit www.letsmove.gov, an initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama that is dedicated to helping adults improve the health of children through healthy lifestyle choices—including exercise that is fun.

What’s your favorite way to stay active as a family?

– Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life and founder, HealthBarn USA

What puzzles you about keeping your family healthy?  Tell us what’s on your mind by emailing [email protected].  Stacey will answer those questions here weekly.

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