By the time you finish work, slog through bumper-to-bumper traffic, make dinner for the family, and help the kids with their homework, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. And yet, if you’re not taking the time to incorporate some level of activity into your daily routine, it’s only a matter of time before you start to feel tired, irritable, and generally burned out (if you don’t already). Even if you manage to avoid weight gain by eating a healthy and balanced diet, you can’t feel your best without some amount of physical activity. And if that’s not enough to motivate you, consider that your kids might be dealing with the same problem. What kind of example are you setting for them? The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get you entire family involved in a more active lifestyle. Here are some tips to get you going.
Starting is the hardest part. People like to settle into routines and it’s all too easy to become complacent. So pulling yourself out of a rut and dragging your family with you is not going to be a simple undertaking. But a good way to start is by asking what kinds of activities your family members might be interested in. Kids might be naturally drawn to sports, which are more like games than your average aerobics class or hour on the treadmill. If there’s a park near your house or you have a big backyard, you can take a few minutes before dinner to play soccer or softball or shoot some hoops, just for example. Don’t have time? Try pre-cooking meals so that all you have to do is warm them up on nights when you head outside to exercise. And if you live in a wintry locale, sign up for a membership with your local YMCA for year-round access to a pool and gym facilities.
Of course, you could start out simply enough by walking around your neighborhood. If your fitness level is relatively low, adding a short walk to your daily routine can help you get back in the habit of moving without stressing yourself too much. As a bonus, you can get walking or jogging strollers for babies or toddlers whose little legs won’t carry them far. So turn your neighborhood into an adventure. Set out to explore new streets or walk or bike to the grocery store to pick up fresh produce for dinner.
Over time, adding physical activity to your daily routine will become a habit – one that makes your whole family healthier and happier. Whether you like to go to Fitness 19 to try new machines or classes, you exercise at home, or you prefer to enjoy the great outdoors with hiking, biking, jogging, or other activities, you can find ways to entice your kids and get the whole family exercising together. And if all goes well, you might even find yourself joining a local sports league or signing up for fitness adventure camps as a family. Taking the first step will be difficult, but once you’ve made the decision to forego your nightly TV shows in exchange for family activities, you’ll enjoy bonding time, increased energy, and better overall health as a result.