Making physical activity part of your family's daily routine.
Turn off the T.V. and get on your feet!
A major component of creating a healthy lifestyle is to include physical activity as a part of your daily routine, and to limit the amount of time spent engaged in sedentary activities. Here are some guidelines to consider:
No more than two hours of screen time: Screen time includes television, movies, video games and computer games as well as time spent texting and talking on the telephone. Children under 2 years of age should not have any screen time on a daily basis.
At least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity: Use a scale of 1-10 – where 1 is very easy, 5 is slightly difficult, and 10 is so difficult that a child is working so hard he or she cannot continue. The goal is to work consistently at a level of 5-7 for at least 20 minutes before taking breaks. The one hour of activity can be broken into two or three segments during the day.
- Start with small goals and build on them to help make lasting lifestyle changes. Here are some ways to start making positive changes in your family’s physical activity plans:
- Walk or ride your bike to and from school. If school is too far away, consider walking to a bus stop farther from home.
- Take family walks in the neighborhood or to a local park before or after dinner.
- Make yard work, gardening and household chores team efforts with the whole family.
- Take breaks from homework in the evening to choose an indoor or outdoor physical activity for 30 minutes.
- Instead of going to a movie, go on a bike ride, nature hike or to the zoo where your family can talk and interact with one another while being active.
Team sports and treadmills aren’t the only way to seek physical fitness
Physical fitness includes several components that should be considered when choosing activities. Here are some examples:
- Strength – tug of war, bike riding, rowing
- Balance – martial arts, dance, skating
- Flexibility – yoga, gymnastics, simple stretches before and after other physical activities
- Cardiorespiratory endurance – swimming, soccer, jumping rope (the key with these activities is maintaining them for extended periods of time)
What about the weather?
There are many ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, even when it is cold or rainy outside. Indoor swimming pools and gyms (basketball and tennis courts) can be great options, but also consider these ideas for home:
For young children:
- Create an obstacle course out of household items with your child. Work on going over, under, around and between objects; walk along a narrow object like a balance beam.
- Play fitness games like “follow the leader” using exercises and body movements that you make up (jumping jacks, hop scotch, etc.) Have your kids take turns being the leader.
- Play London Bridge, Hokey Pokey or other songs and games with associated movements.
For older children and adolescents:
- Have a dance party contest. Have family members pick their favorite song and make up dances, practice your favorite type of dance, or learn a new dance.
- Play “indoor badminton” with balloons, shower puffs or rolled socks and see how long you can volley them around. Use one object per child or one for the whole group.
- Wheelbarrow walk around the house and over obstacles (forward, backward, sideways, over pillows and around obstacles).
- Create an obstacle course in an open area or empty garage. Skip through the course and dribble a basketball between obstacles.
- Play parachute games using a flat bed sheet as a parachute and shake the sheet vigorously with some rolled socks in the center. See how long you can keep the socks in the parachute.
- Jump rope in a covered area or the garage. Try jumping to music to help set the pace.
- Have a hoola hoop contest and practice your hoola hoop skills.
- Play “Dance Dance Revolution” or other step pad games that require standing and frequent, constant motion – a great way to stay active indoors.