When I made a lifestyle change many years ago (and recommitted after having three children), it involved a lot less food and certainly a lot more activity. I’m already an object in motion, but I still had to make a concerted effort to do little things each day keep moving so I wouldn’t fall in to a sedentary lifestyle.
I don’t want my children to fall into a sedentary lifestyle, either. Research in recent years* points to the importance of incorporating movement throughout the day, especially intermittently, and even for small periods of time.
A few things that helped me develop a movement mindset:
I don’t think of fitness as limited to structured activity. Fitness isn’t only about going to the gym or performing a specific workout at home. Fitness is about toughness, vigor, and physical ability. It’s about stamina. Being able to walk a long distance without getting tired is fitness. Being able to run around outdoors: climbing trees and jumping rope and playing pick-up basketball require a certain level of fitness.
I adopted the mindset that movement is a positive, not a negative. A faraway parking spot is an opportunity for physical activity. An out-of-order elevator means taking the stairs and getting my heart rate up.
I do what I can to pass on these values to my children in the form of daily habits. The things you see below? We do those. I rarely say, “It’s too far to walk” when it’s actually not. My children know that the weather is no excuse for staying inside all day. They see me move and exercise and play outdoors with them.
9 Ways to Incorporate Physical Activity in your Family’s Normal Routine
- Take regular walks. Change routes for variety and check out hiking trails in your area.
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Almost always.
- Require outdoor play nearly every day.
- Determine to go outside everyday. Except for conditions like tornados, extreme wind, pouring rain, and hail—there’s little reason to stay indoors because of weather. If it’s below freezing or above 100 degrees: dress appropriately, hydrate often with water, and breathe in plenty of fresh air.
- When possible on errands, park once and walk to nearby locations like the grocery store and bank.
- Do stretches together after playing outside or working on chores.
- If appropriate on the way home from errands or school, drop off your kids a few blocks and let them walk the rest of the way.
- Use indoor activity for movement within your walls: dance to favorite tunes, spend 20 minutes on chores, jog in place, do pushups. Kids get a kick of these activities when parents join in.
- Take breaks between chores or sitting work to play a game of tag.
What is your favorite way to move with your family?