Engaging in physical activity plays a vital role in promoting health and wellness.  Summertime offers a variety of opportunities to engage in activities with the family during vacations and outings.

Three ways to encourage your family to participate in exercise
In order to convince your family to engage in physical activities, set a good example and participate in physical activities together.  When your children are surrounded by people encouraging them to be physically active, they are more likely to be active.  Family activities promote both physical and mental wellness.  Here are some ways to encourage your family to be more physically active.

  1. Set goals.  You and your family should work together to set goals that everyone in the family can realistically achieve.  Goals should be specific and obtainable.  You can make this process more fun by rewarding the family members who are first to achieve their goals with a small gift.  It is important to remember that these goals are usually not met overnight so patience is key.
  2. Schedule the activities.  In order to increase participation from your family, scheduling the activities at a time everyone can participate is crucial.  You can personalize schedules to the individual if needed.  Celebrate every achievement along the way.  If you continue to stick to a schedule, these healthy habits are eventually incorporated into the family routine.
  3. Be flexible.  Families with a flexible schedule attain the best results.  If some family members have other things to do during the time scheduled for physical activity, then reschedule the time for that session instead of cancelling it completely.

Summer activities for families

Swimming.  This is one of the best activities to improve overall physical fitness.  Swimming involves all the muscles in the body and is excellent exercise for the cardiovascular system.  It also enhances joint flexibility due to the abduction and adduction movements.

Bicycling.  Regular biking has numerous health benefits including weight loss, stronger bones for young children, improved flexibility and prevention of some diseases.  Biking is beneficial to the mind and body as many people find that it truly relaxes them and brings them happiness.

Walking.  Some families decide to walk to their destination in the summer if it’s close, or even just to walk around their neighborhood.  Consider encouraging your family to take a walk around your local park on a sunny afternoon.

Hiking.  Before going on a family hike, consider working on your endurance.  This will help decrease the chance of backaches and burning legs afterwards.  A short pre-hike will help increase your energy and minimize the post-hike aches and pains.  Hiking can be a great family experience, and it improves your sleep habits.

Beach games.  Some families decide to have fun at the beach by playing games together.  Playing has a relaxing effect, which reduces the occurrence of depression and stress.

Team sports.  People with a larger family can play team sports such as volleyball.  Smaller families can play things like two-on-two basketball or doubles tennis.  These kind of team sports improve one’s mood and reduce stress levels.

Skating. Studies have demonstrated that inline skating and roller skating improves and maintains physical fitness.  Inline skating can be a wonderful activity for all people regardless of age.

Lawn games. Some families play games such as badminton and croquet in their backyards during the summer.

Sack racing.  This classic game has been played for decades.  However, new twists on this game are constantly being added that can make it even more hilarious.  Jumping up and down in a sack helps to flex one’s muscles.

Tire jumping.  This is a functional exercise that focuses on all muscles in the legs, but particularly the hamstrings and quadriceps.

Rock climbing. Climbing enhances mental and physical health. Families can also participate in activities like gardening or walking the dog together.

Every parent wants to raise a fit and healthy child.  Summer provides multiple opportunities for families to exercise and stay fit as well as to connect and bond with each other.  When kids are exercising, they usually have fun and their physical and mental health improve.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Jackie Borst, PA-C

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