Modern day life is proving to be our worst enemy when it comes to the never-ending effort in maintaining an active lifestyle. Online shopping, banking, binge-watching TV, virtual socialisation – everything is at our fingertips without the need to leave home.
With the demands of work, to-do lists, extra-curricular activities, children, housework, elderly parents it is understandable why engaging in a regular fitness routine takes a back seat. But this excuse is not good enough. Our health needs to be prioritised.
As parents, it should always be in the back of our minds that we set an example for our children. Kids model their parents’ behaviours so if you lead a couch potato lifestyle or always have your face in a device, this sets the benchmark for your kids to model their own habits off (and part of the reason childhood obesity rates are making headlines). The good news is that there are simple things we can do to regain control of our health while encouraging positive habits to our children. The secret lies in being creative, with exercise feel like it’s not and motivating the family to get outdoors and start moving… together!
5 Simple Ideas to Becoming a Fitter Family
- Create a family fitness plan
Time to put your thinking caps on and work out:
What motivates your family?
What sports/activities do you like?
What time of the day works best?
What are your goals? To eat better, to be active, get outdoors – what works for you?
When there are children involved it’s a good idea to remove focus from the end goal (weight management or getting fit) and focus instead on having some fun family time. The health benefits will come if you choose lifestyle goals that lean towards making better food choices and being active. Another tip is to focus your attitude on what you’ll all gain from your new lifestyle rather than what you will be missing out on. Remember, if it’s not fun it won’t work.
- Arm yourself with the right info
Having the right equipment can also help keep you on track. Grab some bikes, helmets, skateboards, running shoes or surfboards and enjoy learning a new skill together.
- Do it together
Head to your local library or internet search for inspiring healthy recipes everyone will enjoy. Take the kids grocery shopping and involve them in the process of meal planning and preparation (another worthwhile life skill) to cook a meal they’ll take pride in and enjoy! You could even plan your own family MasterChef and give each child their own turn at creating a healthy meal for dinner during the week (with some supervision from the head chef – that’s you! – of course)
Enter a family fun run, turn your lounge room into a gym or set aside a morning a week where you can walk/ride to school together (and do the same for after school pickup). Turn your neighbourhood into a ‘nature walk’ and search nearby streets for flowers and new adventures. Kids love being active with their parents, so it’s always worth the initial effort of enticing them away from the computer or TV.
- Make healthy living fun
Get adventurous and try out a ‘healthy’ restaurant. Watching the menu selections your kids make will give you an indication of what they might like to make at home. Try a new grain, vegetable or flavours you have never had before.
Set up a veggie patch and watch how your kids love to chart the progress of a tomato plant or snow pea. Find your nearest stand-up paddle (SUP) boarding or kayak hire and take the family to explore your local waterways. Or it can be as simple as pumping out the top 40 music singles and hosting your own version of ‘Australia’s Got Talent’.
Plan your next holiday to be an active one, where you can bushwalk, horse-riding, sail or go surfing together. Take your bikes, scooters or skateboards and walk, ride or scoot into town and leave the car in the garage.
- Set realistic goals you can have fun tracking
Pop post-it notes on a wall every morning and take one down each time you take a step towards your health goals that day (e.g. took the dog for a walk or tried a new veggie for lunch), or to help track a new habit you are trying to break (21 days is a good start).
Pedometers can be a fun way to track your steps. Set up a family challenge to see who can cover the greatest distance each day.
Make it a goal to discover each street in your neighbourhood within three months, (or six months if it’s a big one!) Throw on your runners and the kids can scoot or ride beside you. You’re out doing something active and that’s the main thing.
Keep a chart on the fridge where each person marks off their fruit and veggie intake for the day. Doing this is a great visual way for young children to grasp the idea of what a healthy diet looks like. Reward with gold stars, stickers or a non-edible treat such as a trip to the movies for everyone – because all the extra activity has now given you a legitimate excuse to sit down.