Getting fit together as a family

If your mission is to lose weight, eat better and exercise more. Why not make it a family affair?

When every member of the family is involved in making healthy lifestyle changes, it’ll be easier on you. Teaching kids at a young age the importance of healthy living can set habits that last a lifetime.

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Remember, make your workouts creative, consistent, and catered to the needs, ages, and stages of your family. By exercising as a family you’ll not only get in shape, lose weight, and reduce your risk of disease, but you’ll have fun and make memories at the same time. Here are a few ideas to get your family started on the road to better health.

Healthy lifestyle changes don’t happen by accident. As a family, plan ahead and decide on the best time to exercise. If your goal is to work out together one time a week, it could be a weeknight after dinner or a weekend afternoon. Before you get busy and forget, put it on the calendar.

Each week, designate a different family member to be in charge of planning the family workout. This way the kids can feel a sense of control and at some point, everyone is sure to do something they enjoy. Younger kids may need help coming up with ideas. Suggest things such as a family bike ride, a hike, or a tennis or basketball match.

“My mother was a P.E. teacher, and she was kind of a fanatic about fitness and nutrition growing up, so it was ingrained in me at a young age. As I get older, I’m finding out it’s not about getting all buffed up and looking good. It’s more about staying healthy and flexible.” – Josh Duhamel

A family with older kids may find friendly competition a fun and motivating way to get in shape. At the beginning of the week or month, pick an exercise (push-ups, sit-ups, or bicep curls) and have each person do as many reps as they can. After a set amount of time spent practicing the exercise, test to see who improved the most and reward him or her with a small prize.

Another type of competition may be to see who exercises the most over the course of the week. Have each member keep track of how long they exercised each day or give each person a pedometer to track the number of steps taken on a daily basis. At the end of the week, reward the most active one.

You can also make an entire family goal. If everyone exercises a certain number of minutes or takes a total number of steps, plan a family treat like a trip to the movies or a pizza night.

Exercise doesn’t always have to be planned. Be spontaneous and incorporate physical activity into your daily lives. Rather than turning the television on after dinner, challenge the kids to a game of soccer. Go outside and jump on the trampoline, shoot hoops, toss the football, or play tag. Turn up the music and have a dance party with the little kids. Turn off the video games and head to the park to play on the jungle gym, throw a Frisbee, or rollerblade.

Whatever you choose, just get moving!

Exercise shouldn’t be a chore you’re forced to fit into your schedule. Plan your child’s birthday around active games like relay races, roller-skating, swimming, or dancing. When the family gets together for holidays, organize a game of kickball, soccer, or whiffle ball. Kids home on summer break? Get the neighbourhood families involved in planning a neighbourhood Olympics or field day that features wheelbarrow races, two-legged races, and water balloon fights.

You see by now that it doesn’t have to complicated and it doesn’t have to seem like a huge chore to the kids and family, it’s all about how you spin it and integrate it into your lives. Trust us, you might have to fight a little at first before the habits are formed but once they are your family will be entrenched in a fitness-first mindset and then the real amazing changes (now and down the road) start to happen.

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and the owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.

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