Creating a fitness plan benefits families in more ways than one — from enhancing their collective wellbeing to providing an opportunity to bond and get to know each other on a deeper level. Developing a habit of working out as a family is also an economical choice. A recent report reveals that the average American household of four spent $28,000 on healthcare in 2018. This amount is an increase of $1,222 from the previous year, and is expected to rise further over the next few years. Additionally, Maryville University estimates there will be shortage of 100,000 family medicine doctors in six years' time. This makes exercise the perfect way to avoid added expenses down the road, especially as inactive families might not be able to get the medical attention that they need in cases of emergency.
As a parent, one way to reap the many benefits and address these concerns is to get the entire family to lace up their sneakers and exercise. Read on for some tips on how you can create a family fitness plan of your own.
Do it together
The family that works out together stays healthy together. You’re more likely to stick to a routine when you have workout partners, even if your exercise buddies are your own kids. They have a lot of energy that you can bounce off of, and in return, you can show them the ropes of working out. These lessons are things they can take with them throughout their life, and can encourage lifelong healthy habits that you can even use as further motivation as you get older.
Moreover, there’s also more accountability with having a team behind you, especially if your goal is to help your kids stay active and find an outlet for their unlimited energy. You can hike together, walk in the park, play team sports — the ideas are endless. And in the process, you may even get to know each other a little better!
Make it fun and exciting
No one likes being forced to do anything boring or monotonous, and personal trainer Lauren Hinson highlights feeling good as an effective motivational tool for working out. With this in mind, it's important not to treat exercise as a punishment for eating poorly or misbehaving. This can create an unhealthy relationship with exercise, which should be avoided at all costs.
What you can do is to think of fun activities that everyone can get on board with. The new features here on Kids Obstacle Challenge certainly fit the bill — kids everywhere will enjoy balancing on their hands and feet, testing their strength, and working in teams without it feeling like a chore. By making exercise more fun and exciting, kids are more likely to be fully engaged in your activity and continue staying fit for longer.
Let everyone contribute ideas
The best thing about working out as a family is that you’ll never run out of ideas! Everyone will have activities they want to try, so make sure to give each idea a shot so each family member will have something to look forward to.
Unfortunately, too many parents make the mistake of deciding what sport or activity their children should take up without asking if it's enjoyable for them. This creates pressure and takes away from the enjoyment and possible learnings that each child could have. Giving children the responsibility to choose a type of activity for everyone will also let them know that you trust them and that you value their opinion.
Exercise on vacation
If you’re going on a family vacation, travel writer Steve Ettinger recommends planning outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, or biking trips. This doesn't only help you explore each vacation spot that you visit; it also ensures that the habit of exercising remains consistent.
Picking up with your routine after a long off-period can be challenging, and one of the secrets to maintaining optimal wellbeing is consistency with your healthy habits — even when you're out of town.
Finish off with rewards
Giving rewards is one way to positively reinforce the habit of exercising in your family. Try not to use food as rewards though, so that it doesn’t undo all your hard work.
Instead, you can say that whoever finishes first in a race gets to choose the movie that everyone watches, or gets extra time playing outside. However, always remember that exercising is already a reward in itself and that’s something that children — or even parents — hopefully realize.
Written by Brooke Lauren