Enjoying fitness activities together as a family does more than reduce fat and build muscle. New research shows it builds strong family bonds too.
Obesity is a real concern in all Western countries, especially as the age of obese and overweight people is getting younger every year. Children as young as eight have been measured as being overweight, thanks to a combination of sugary foods and drinks, high fat foods, and a sedentary lifestyle – more time in front of the tv or computer, being driven to school and after-school activities.
Children have less opportunity for unstructured physical play in the street, the playground or the garden than they did a generation ago, and sadly, many young children believe the sedentary lifestyle is ‘normal’. Yet, according to Dr Ron Eaker, author of Fat-Proof Your Family,
Cover of Fitness Fun
“If a child at age 10 is physically active on a consistent basis, for about an hour a day, they have a 75% less likelihood of being overweight as an adult.”
Fitness is Not Just for Weight Loss
Getting fit and keeping fit is not just about losing weight, although the right exercise program, combined with a healthy, calorie-controlled diet, can certainly help turn fat to muscle and shrink the shape. Even thin or normal weight people need to exercise for strength, endurance, healthy joints, muscles, hearts and brains. Now it seems, that exercising together as a family is not only good for everyone’s body, it’s good for building strength in the family life.
Benefits of Regular Fitness Routines
Building a fitness routine into your day provides a cocktail of physical and mental benefits:
· More energy
· Better balance
· Stronger bones and muscles
· Greater joint flexibility
· Healthier heart and cardiovascular system
· Reduced stress
· More positive mood
· Greater brain function
· Better sleep
· Greater self-esteem
For children, these benefits translate into fewer behavioural problems at home and at school, fewer learning problems, and a happier child.
Family Fitness Builds Family Strength
As well as individually gaining the benefits of regular exercise, the family as a whole gains from the shared fun times, more positive moods, reduced stress and greater self-esteem. It’s not just “the family that prays together, stays together”, it’s also “the family that plays together, stays together”.
Make Fitness Fun and Easy to Do Together
Fitness doesn’t have to mean going to the gym, or playing a competitive sport, especially if your children are young. The important things is to find a physical activity that everyone enjoys – from riding bikes to romping with the dog, or a game of backyard cricket or soccer. Make a time for fitness fun every day, even if only for half an hour before bedtime. Let the children suggest activities like skipping, jumping, playing hide and seek – anything that keeps everyone moving and laughing. Even washing the car can be good exercise as well as a necessary chore!
Fun Ideas for Family Fitness
· Skipping rope (jump rope) competitions
· Races around the house or garden
· Hopping on the spot
· Shooting hoops
· Bouncing and tumbling on a trampoline
· Tossing a frisbee
· Walking the dog (the dog will enjoy that too)
· Going to the playground and climbing the adventure frame
· Dancing competitions to karaoke DVDs
At weekends or holiday times, the whole family can go on hikes, bushwalk, fun runs, fishing expeditions, rock climbing. The list is endless!