The holiday season has come to a close, and work and school are back in full swing. While many of us made big resolutions about health and fitness at the start of the year, February is often a time when reaching those goals takes a back seat to busy schedules, chilly weather, and let’s be honest, king cake. So to get you back on track we’ve come up with a few ideas to get the whole family involved!
The New Year tends to get adults counting their steps and putting their water bottles to good use, but why stop with the grown-ups? A survey conducted by Well Ahead LA, an initiative aimed at improving the health and well-being of Louisiana residents, found that 3 out of 4 Louisiana high school students get less than 60 minutes of physical activity per day. This is alarming, in that, The World Health Organization recommends that children ages 5-17 should “accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate - to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily” for appropriate development of musculoskeletal tissues, the cardiovascular system and neuromuscular awareness, and in order to maintain a healthy body weight. Well Ahead LA also found that “students who are overweight or obese are more likely to receive C’s, D’s, and F’s than students who are not.” This is because sedentary, or inactive, bodies are more prone to fatigue, anxiety, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, and other diseases.
Children’s health starts with parents and role models; if physical activity is a priority for you, it is more likely to become a priority for the children around you. Additionally, achieving fitness goals as an adult is much easier when the whole family is involved. Family fitness is a win/win! Rather than stressing about finding a babysitter or leaving the kids at home so you can get to the gym, try a game of backyard tag with the whole family, a high-speed indoor scavenger hunt, a dance party in your pajamas, or a Wii Sports session after dinner! Consider that physical activity can be a balance between both "structured" exercise (organized sports, workout classes, P.E., etc.) and "unstructured" exercise (walking the dog, carrying groceries, play, etc.) Below are a few "unstructured" ideas to incorporate into your everyday routine as you strive for healthier, happier kiddos in 2019:
- Replace driving with walking, biking, skipping, scootering, skateboarding… you get the idea! If you’re not going too far from home, encourage each other to engage your bodies in order to get from point A to point B. Go for a parking spot that's far away rather than one that's close. It’s not only good for you, it’s good for the environment too!
- Limit screen time: Well Ahead LA found that “29% of students watch TV for 3 or more hours a day.” This time spent being sedentary could be spent playing hopscotch or double dutch, acting out a scene from your favorite book, or marching in an impromptu backyard parade!
- Make it fun! Turn “boring” everyday activities into fun, active ones:
- How many grocery bags can you carry at one time?
- Can’t find something in the house? Everyone look for it like you’re a monster! Then, as if you were a mouse! Now, a ballerina! A construction worker! A giant frog! A rock star! Etc. Etc.
- Take quick “brain breaks” during homework: take a lap around the house, do 10 jumping jacks, or play one round of hide-n-seek, and then get back to work!
- Plan family activities that involve moving: go to the farmer’s market and let the kids pick their produce, take the dog for a walk, wash the car together, go for a hike, walk around the mall, have a dance battle, or go for a bike ride.
The bottom line - let's keep our 2019 health initiative momentum at a high, and continue to lead by example. Get out there and get moving!