It’s no secret that parents with kids and teens are always busy – between working, chauffeuring the family around, helping with homework, and a never-ending list of other tasks, it’s easy to neglect physical fitness. But, did you know that the American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents get at least 1 hour of moderate to vigorous activity each day to keep their hearts, bodies, and brains healthy? It may seem impossible to fit an hour of exercise into your children’s schedules—not to mention your own—but, setting aside time to be active together can benefit the whole family physically and emotionally. Similar to sitting down to a family meal, exercising can be a time to connect with one another and enjoy each other’s company.
Children learn by observing, and parents are often their primary role models, so the best way to teach them the importance of exercise is by showing them that you value it. It’s been shown that regular exercise offers many of the same benefits to children as it does to adults: stronger muscles and bones, less risk of becoming overweight, reduced risk of getting type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Research has also shown that active children sleep better, have a more positive outlook on life, and are better equipped to deal with physical and emotional challenges.
So, what can your family do together to stay fit?
Luckily, the possibilities are endless during the summer months! Try some of these fun outdoor activities:
- Swim in a pool, lake, or at the beach
- Go for a walk after dinner
- Take a hike and explore a new place
- Go kayaking or canoeing
- Invite friends and neighbors over to play lawn games
There are plenty of ways to stay active throughout the other seasons as well – like raking leaves in the fall, skiing or ice skating in the winter, taking a fun fitness class together (like dance or martial arts), or gardening in the spring.
It’s also important to limit screen time for yourself and your children year-round; use some of the time you might normally spend scrolling on your phone or watching television to bond with your family and improve your health. The healthy habits you form with your kids now can benefit them (and you!) for years to come.