In our hustle and bustle society, family health is often pushed out of the picture. This is in spite of the massive rise of organized youth sports, “health clubs” springing up like weeds and a never-ending flow of information about food and nutrition.
Visits to the fitness center and scheduled sports practices have largely replaced visits to the park, tree climbing and even one of the most basic family activities, a game of catch.
Fast food, convenience store food and microwaveable everything seems to have replaced cooking meals and eating as a family.
So I want to offer some simple ways for families to regain their health and family fitness…as families!
So here we go!
1. Play tag! Tag is fun! It’s also a great game for improving cardio-respiratory fitness, mobility and agility. Here are a few simple versions.
Basic tag – If you get tagged, you’re “it” until you tag someone else.
Freeze tag – If you get tagged, you’re “frozen” and have to remain still. You can make the game so that you’re frozen for a specific time (a “10 count,” for example) or until the “melter” touches you.
Zombie Tag – One player begins as a “Zombie.” As this player tags others, they become Zombies, chasing the remaining humans. The catch? If you’re a Zombie, you have to move like one. And I mean one of those slow, lumbering Walking Dead Zombies, not the Olympic sprinter kind like they had in Zombieland.
2. “Fitness-ize” your TV time – When watching TV, try setting “code words,” which, when heard, trigger a specific activity for, say, 10 seconds. Try words like crunchy, sweet, update or highlight, depending on the type of show being watched.
The triggered activity should be something simple like Jumping Jacks or crazy dancing. Try giving each family member their own word.
Also, try activity breaks during commercials, such as 10 toe touches, 20 Jumping Jacks or 30 seconds of super-fast “Patty Cakes.”
3. Expand your food repertoire – Commit to trying one new fruit, vegetable or other healthy food every 7 to 10 days. Each time you do, let a different family member choose the food. Then, prepare it as a family and enjoy together!
4. Walk and play – Take a family walk and play “I Spy” or “Complete This” as you go.
I spy is easy and classic. One person looks at something and says “I spy with my little eye…” Then, others begin to guess what’s being “spied,” or ask questions to narrow down the selection.
“Complete This” is also simple, though not as classic. The first player starts by saying the beginning of a sentence or paragraph. The next player tries to extend it in the funniest/scariest/least sensible way possible. Each player after continues the trend. Simple, easy and adds laughter to the mix!
5. Ride a bike – Ride bikes as a family.
Explore your neighborhood and maybe evenbeyond. Don’t forget the safety helmets!
This seems so simple, yet can yield big results!
5 ½. Create a contest – Make your family’s activity, exercise and nutrition a contest. Or, make it into a cooperative effort. It all depends on your kids and your family’s preferred approach.
For example, you could create a simple scoring system for foods. Give fibrous veggies the highest score, fruits with edible skins the next, then starchier veggies, other fruits, meats, dairy, etc., all the way down to negative scores for things like soda, sweets and other junk food and treats.
Keep your scores all week. Let the winner pick an activity for the family or win a treat or small prize.
You could flip this around and work as a team to see how fast you can get to a specific score. Play with the score values and let the games begin!
Improving your family health doesn’t have to be repetitive, limiting or boring. How many other ways can you think of to make family activity, health and fitness more fun and more effective?
Feel free to share them with me and I’ll be sure to let everyone know where they came from!