In today’s busy world, It’s very easy to come home from a long day at work or school and end up sitting down to relax in front of the TV. However, this behavior is not conducive to a healthy, active lifestyle and is actually doing more harm than good. Numerous studies have shown that the amount of TV both adult and children watch correlates with obesity levels; the more sedentary and less active your lifestyle, the higher your chance of becoming overweight or obese and having issues with heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and other weight related health issues.
Let’s explore some great ideas to get your family off the couch and outside:
Set TV limits for yourself and your kids
Sit down and figure out how much TV you will allow yourself and your kids each day or each week, keeping in mind that most experts recommend that kids spend no more than 2 hours a day in front of the TV. Once you’ve set limits, plan ahead and decide what you want to watch each day, and stick to your limits. While this might be difficult initially, many families who place limits on TV viewing time find that once they’re used to it, they end up watching less TV than they originally planned.
Establish a tradition or a routine
Whether it’s bike riding after dinner, going to the park on Saturdays or throwing a Frisbee around in the yard with the kids after work, try and establish a fun exercise routine that the whole family will enjoy. Even when the weather starts to get cold, you can still enjoy outside time, such as playing in the snow or going for walks–just make sure everyone is dressed appropriately.
Take advantage of local perks
When the weather is nice, there are plenty of opportunities in many neighborhoods to get your family active. Explore activity options in your community. Consider buying a pass to an area swimming pool and find out where local walking or biking paths are and go for family bike rides or walks. If you have parks and playgrounds in your area and small kids, take them there to play and burn off energy instead of sitting on the couch watching TV.
At the same time, you don’t have to go much farther than your own backyard if you want to get exercise. Set up a badminton or volleyball net in your backyard and play, or play games like tag with your kids. This is a great way for the whole family to get exercise.
Include the kids
Having young children is not a reason to forgo exercise. Put the kids in a stroller and go for a walk or get a jogging stroller. If you ride bikes, there are many attachments now that allow you to pull your kids along behind you. The kids will enjoy the ride (and fall asleep!) and you’ll get additional exercise. Exercising with kids while they are young is a great way to encourage physical fitness habits as they get older as well.
Whether it’s walking around the neighborhood, swimming at the community pool or joining team sports, keeping yourself and your family physically fit is important for their overall well-being and, as an added bonus, health care long term will be less expensive because they are healthy and less likely to get sick.