Ways to Exercise as a Family

We all want to be healthier. Whether it is to look better at the beach, have more energy or live a little longer, being healthier is an all-around good decision. The difficulty, of course, lies in how to achieve it.

Most of us recognize that attaining a healthier lifestyle begins with being more active. Just a few minutes on the treadmill or stationary bike can make a significant difference to your overall health, but it can be arduous to hit the gym after a long day at work or if family duties beckon.

There is a simple solution. Instead of lying in front of a TV as a family, you can all take a walk, play a game of tennis  or learn the latest dance craze together. Even if you aren’t the most gifted athlete, there are ways to make your family exercise sessions enjoyable enough so that your kids look forward to them rather than viewing them as chores.

Why Children Need to Exercise

It can be easy to identify reasons for you to exercise more as an adult—lose weight, build stronger bones, etc.—but you may not as readily recognize it in your kids. Consistent physical activity is a must in children in order to develop strong bones and muscles. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends 60 minutes of exercise every day for children.

In an era when most kids spend an inordinate amount of time in front a phone, TV or computer screen, regular exercise is more important than ever. One of the most important reasons that kids need to exercise is to avoid obesity. Almost 17 percent of kids aged from 2 to 19 are obese, and this trend is increasing as more children adopt a sedentary lifestyle.

Physical exercise is essential for developing fine motor skills which in turn builds self-confidence, social skills, and academic success. A healthy childhood is also a foundation for a healthy life, as children who are more active are more likely to be active as adults.

In addition to an elevated likelihood of becoming obese as a child, sedentary kids are at greater risk of developing serious chronic health problems like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Why Adults Should Be More Active

All of the benefits that exercise confers upon children also applies to adults. These include

  • Reduces weight gain
  • Enhanced cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Increased muscular strength
  • Fall prevention
  • Stress management
  • Lowers risk for
    • Heart disease
    • Stroke
    • High cholesterol
    • High blood pressure
    • Type 2 diabetes
    • Colon cancer
    • Breast cancer

There are clear health benefits to exercising regularly, but perhaps the most compelling is that it could add years to your life. It is estimated that 110,000 premature deaths in the U.S. could be prevented by exercising just 10 minutes a day. The nation as a whole could save $117 billion every year in health care costs if the nation met the minimum recommended activity standards.

Although the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, you don’t need to break it up into long 30-minute sessions. If you can perform 10-minute sessions three times a day, at least five times a week, you should notice significant health improvements.

Exercises for the Entire Family

It can be hard to find something that everyone in your family enjoys doing, so you may want to rotate in a number of exercises so that everyone gets their favorite at least some of the time.

  • Dodgeball—competing against one another is an excellent way to stoke your family’s enthusiasm for physical activity, and dodgeball is something that most kids should be familiar with. Depending on the age and condition of your children, you can ramp up the intensity accordingly.
  • Interval walking—have your kids write down their 5 favorite bodyweight exercises like karate, dancing or sit-ups. Then go for a walk but every 60 seconds, the family must perform one of the exercises.
  • Dance party—if there is inclement weather outside, then an excellent idea is to turn on your favorite dance tunes and dance throughout the house.
  • Roller blading—although this exercise requires some safety preparedness and an  open area to move, your kids will be thrilled to fly around at top speeds.
  • Commercial break—even if you are gathered around the TV to watch your favorite shows, you can get in a few reps of jumping jacks, squats or push-ups. You can even turn it into a competition to see who can do the most before the show returns.
  • Car wash—kids really enjoy getting sudsy on a hot day outside. Even if your kids don’t want to give your vehicle a good washing, you may be able to convince them if you have some squirt guns or water balloons available.
  • Swimming—swimming is the ideal exercise in the summer, especially if you live close to a pool or lake. This low-impact activity is perfect for people with joint issues, but you can still burn a lot of calories depending on how strenuously you exercise. Most importantly, your kids will thoroughly enjoy themselves while spending time at the pool.
  • Biking—most kids are thrilled to hop on a bike and jaunt to a local attraction, and doing it with the entire family can turn this into a memorable event. This can also be a valuable opportunity to train your kids in cycling safety.
  • Gardening—this may not sound like the most exciting kind of exercise, but cultivating delicious vegetables and beautiful flowers has a powerful appeal even for the very young. This can also be a foundational experience in having patience and living in harmony with nature.
  • Laser tag—you might want to keep this exercise in reserve for when you want to reward your kids, but you might also consider using it as an incentive to keep them motivated at exercising. In any case, your kids should really enjoy “killing” other family members while getting a lot of cardio.

Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care

M.D. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of Robert Moghim, M.D. and do not necessarily represent and are not intended to represent the views of the company or its employees.  The information contained in this article does not constitute medical advice, nor does reading or accessing this information create a patient-provider relationship.  Comments that you post will be shared with all visitors to this page. The comment feature is not governed by HIPAA, and you should not post any of your private health information.