Family fitness isn’t a school subject per se, but it’s definitely something you should be teaching your kids. We keep being told how fat Americans are. God bless America, the land of plenty. But we do want to be fit, in spite of all the cheeseburgers. Actually, I like to be fit because of the cheeseburgers. That way I can eat them! Unfortunately, the best way to encourage fitness in your kids is to exercise yourself. One of the cardinal rules of parenthood is to be a good example. Kids model their parents behavior for good or ill. Get started with these family fitness ideas.
Get your kids involved in fun sports. Have older kids lift weights with you. Do exercise videos together. Go to the pool as a family. Go on a run or hike together. This is how you teach lifelong fitness.
Here are some fun ways to have family fitness:
- Go on regular walks together. Make a tradition of an after dinner walk around your neighborhood or area.
- Play outside. We have a trampoline and we love going out in the evenings and cheering each other on, playing, and learning new tricks.
- Set up park days. Take the whole family to a park and play together, Mom and Dad too.
- Game actively. With interactive, active video games you can play while you exercise – We play on our XBox Kinect and have AWESOME competitions. We have so much fun that we hardly realize how much we sweat!
- Invite the kids to join in as you do aerobics or other fitness activities. Make it a family affair.
- Have regular fitness challenges. We do a fitness challenge once a month where we record how many sit-ups, push-ups, etc. we can do. Timing a short running course is fun too. Write down the results and try to beat your own record month after month.
- Have a family Olympics. Include events like relays, wheelbarrow races, disc throws, ball toss, an obstacle course, balance beam, and hammer throw. We even made little medals out of ribbon and mason jar lids.
But along with the exercises, you also need to teach moderation in eating, both in amounts and in kinds of foods. These are the kinds of things that schools attempt to teach, but can only really be learned incrementally day by day in your own family.
Food and Family Fitness
- Try lots of new foods so your kids are used to trying lots of flavors. Our kids aren’t as picky as a lot of kids because we eat such a variety of new foods and recipes.
- We include lots of fruits and vegetables – cooked, raw, and even pureed inside of things. Our macaroni and cheese and pancakes have carrot puree inside. Every casserole I make has vegetable purees added. Cauliflower, squash, and carrots are my favorite add-ins. Steam the veggies until tender and then put them in the blender to make a smooth puree. Add a little water to the blender so the vegetables get silky smooth.
- We limit the amount of processed foods and refined sugars we eat. We develop a taste for all the sodium and sugar from packaged foods. I really think this is one of the main reasons for picky eaters. We aren’t perfect at this. I don’t keep any foods from my kids, but I also don’t regularly buy chicken nuggets and Cheetos. I know that homemade chicken with rice and vegetables is far better.
- Grow a garden. My kids will eat vegetables they’ve planted, grown, and picked without questions. They feel pride over their garden plots and enjoy eating their harvest.
- Make going out to eat a special occasion, not a regular event.
It’s All About Habits
As you develop healthy habits as a family, it will make a difference in your energy level and health. Teach your kids about foods and health. Talk about what you’re eating and what foods fuel their bodies or bog them down. Spot the healthy things on your plate. Eat well and exercise as a family, because when you take care of your body it helps your minds and spirits to be happy and healthy too!