Five Tips to Build Family Fitness Habits

December 15th, 2016   |  By:

Make your fitness resolution stick by involving the whole family! A commitment to fitness helps build a stronger, healthier family unit — with benefits for every aspect of life:  not just for your physical health, but also for your emotional, social, and mental well-being, too.  Being fit can lead to:

  • A healthier body … with better resistance to common sniffles and “bugs” and with less risk for life-changing health issues, such as heart disease, some cancers, diabetes and osteoporosis.
  • More physical energy, physical strength and endurance … to do what’s important to you and your family, to protect yourselves in emergencies and to learn and be more productive at school and at work.
  • Looking and feeling your personal best … which builds self-esteem and self-confidence (something valued for adults and kids).
  • A sense of well-being … which encourages a positive outlook and stamina to handle the daily stresses, challenges and ups and downs of your busy lives.
  • Positive interactions with family and friends … which adds fun and a better quality of life.

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How to Follow a “Family Fit Lifestyle” …

Smart eating, active living and adequate rest are central to family fitness. As a parent or caring adult for others, you’re the best role model to show and teach children the how-to’s of healthy lifestyles.  To start…

Plan to eat smart.  Involve kids in creating “healthy plates” = about half colorful fruits and vegetables, and about a quarter each of lean or low-fat protein foods and of grain choices.  Make a low-fat or fat-free dairy food part of the meal, too.  Tip:  Figuring out a mixed dish, like Dreamfields Penne Rigate with Turkey, Swiss Chard and Walnuts, takes a little “kitchen math.”

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Cook together, eat together.  Taking a little extra time to involve kids in food prep helps them learn to enjoy a variety of vegetables and fruits.  Likewise sharing family meals is a powerful strategy to encourage and model healthy eating.  Tip:  Fruit & Yogurt Elbow Salad is an easy dish even for young kids to assemble!

Be mindful as you eat.  Encourage slower eating; talk about the foods.  It’s easy to overeat without realizing when you eat too fast. Tip:  Pasta twirled around a fork is often a slower-to-eat meal; put spaghetti, linguini or angel hair recipes on your family menus.

Make regular physical activity part of your family’s everyday routine:  perhaps brisk, after-dinner walks; active fun (running a homemade obstacle course, jumping rope, hula hooping, dancing to music); and household chores (snow shoveling, raking).  Try to fit in 60 minutes daily, if you can.  And limit screen time!  Tip:  Plan now to plant a warm weather garden of fresh vegetables to grow and enjoy at your table. (Gardening is great exercise!)


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Get enough sleep.  Although there’s no magic number, advice from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute is this:  for preschoolers, 11 to 12 hours daily, for school-aged kids, at least 10 hours daily, for teens, 9 to 10 hours daily and for adults, 7 to 8 hours daily.  Sleep deficiency is linked to many health risks, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and impaired immunity.


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