Nearly one in three Michigan children between the ages of 10 and 17 are overweight or obese. Unfortunately, rates of obesity in U.S. adults have also been on the rise for the last decade. Establishing healthy habits as a family creates a support system for both children and parents, allowing everyone to work together towards a healthier, happier future. August 6 marked the start of “Exercise with Your Child Week,” a great opportunity to think about the fun and creative ways to get active as a family inside and outside of the house.
Fresh air, scenery and sunlight offer the benefit of relieving anxiety, reducing depression and promoting better sleep. Studies also show that those who workout outside have a greater likelihood of repeating an exercise routine compared to gym-goers.
• Start a weekly sports night: The backyard is a great place to get everyone in the family active. Each week, choose one night to get outside together and play a sport. Doing so can boost mood, encourage friendly competition and be a great motivator to get active.
• Start gardening together: Letting the kids help around the garden can also be an opportunity to get active. Weeding, tilling soil, planting and some forms of landscaping can serve as a full-body workout. Gardening has also been proven to be a great stress-reliever.
• Find a playground: Jungle gyms are a great place to have fun and get in a good workout. While the kids run around, find a park bench to do step-ups, squat jumps, push-ups or tricep dips. Use the monkey bars for a great arm workout with some pull-ups. All while setting a great example for the kids that exercise is important.
• Get in cardio time: Before or after dinner, create a routine of getting in some activity as a family. Walking, bike riding, rollerblading and swimming are a few of the many ways to get in some cardio together.
At home workouts
Believe it or not, household activities can serve as a chance to get moving as a family. Rethink the traditional definition of exercise and consider ways to turn the house into a gym.
• Body weight exercises: Workouts incorporating High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) are a fast way to fit in a workout during a busy week. Better yet, kids can mirror the exercises in a way that is easy for them. Jumping jacks, burpees, lunges or star jumps are quick to get the heart rate pumping. These exercises are great to do during commercial breaks of a favorite TV show.
• Dance it out: Dancing is an effective and fun cardiovascular exercise. Make a playlist that will get the family up and dancing around the house, or follow along to a musical or dancing movie that the kids enjoy.
• Make it a game: Use a common household item, such as a deck of cards, to create a workout. For every suit, assign a specific exercise. Another idea is to find two dice. One can be for the chosen workout and the other can determine the number of times the exercise must be done.
• Chore workout: The family does not have to sacrifice exercise time to fit in household chores. Create a game out of sweeping or vacuuming to burn some extra calories. When folding laundry, turn it into an ab workout. Twist at the waist from the basket of clothes toward the pile of folded laundry. γ
- Grace Derocha is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. For more health tips, visit: AHealthierMichigan.org