Making Family Fitness Fun
Physical activity is a vital part of staying healthy. Encouraging healthy habits in
your child is one of the best things a parent can do to try to guarantee a healthier
life. Being active can help kids and adults have healthier weights, less fat, and
stronger muscles and bones. Activity can help prevent heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
It can also lessen feelings of depression, and boost confidence. As children get older,
they often reduce their physical activity. Because of this, making activity a family
focus is key.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) says that kids ages 17 and under
get at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. The DHHS recommends
that adults get at least 150 minutes a week of physical activity. And one of the best
ways to meet your goals is to work on them as a family.
Making activity a priority
A little bit of planning can help make physical activity a fun part of your regular
Talk with your child’s pediatrician. If your child has constant health concerns or injuries, his or her health care
provider can help you figure out which activities will work best.
Write down an activity goal. Start with something small that you and your family can reach together. Be specific.
For example, decide to do 30 minutes of activity 4 days a week for 4 weeks.
Create a family activity calendar. Plug in activities for each week like going on a family hike, walking the dog,
or playing sports. Post it in a spot where everyone in the family can see it.
Make a menu of fun choices. A list of activity ideas can get the ball rolling. Think of activities that
work best for your child’s age. See the list below for some choices.
Let your child help pick activities. If your child is involved with choosing activities, he or she may be more excited
Track your progress. Put fun stickers or notes on the calendar to celebrate milestones and other
Limit TV and computer time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 hour to 2 hours
of “screen time” per day.
Reschedule, don’t cancel. If something comes up and you have to miss activity time, plug the activity
into a new time slot.
Set challenges. Create small contests for your family members. Who can climb the most stairs
in a week? Who can be the first to walk the dog 3 times? Offer small rewards
like special stickers on the calendar, or colorful certificates.
Make it social. Invite neighbors or your children’s friends to join your activities. You can
invite them into your challenges, too.
Be positive and encouraging. Physical activity is easier for some kids, and harder for others. Overweight
children may feel self-conscious. Let your child go at his or her own pace, and
offer support and encouragement. Promote a positive attitude. Positive experiences
with activity will make it easier to keep your child involved and interested.
Be a role model. Your positive attitude about activity will help your child see it as an important
part of a healthy life.
Fun ideas for family activity
Dance in the living room to your favorite songs
Do house and yard work together
Go hiking in a local park
Help clean a local park
Play an active video game that involves fun body movement
Play games like tag, catch, or Frisbee
Play sports like soccer, basketball, tennis, or badminton
Ride your bikes together
Take regular family walks on weekend mornings, after dinner, and any other time
Take stairs instead of elevators or escalators, and keep a stair count
Take the dog for a walk or jog
Train together for a charity walk or run
Setting priorities for a lifetime
A child with healthy habits is more likely to grow into an adult with healthy habits.
When physical activities are a family priority, they can help give children a great
foundation for a healthy life.