For some, the holidays can mean overindulgence and inactivity as well as deviating from healthy habits. But it doesn’t have to be the norm for your family. You can encourage movement and bonding through activity. Following are a few ideas to get your loved ones off the couch and breaking a sweat.
Sweat for a cause.
Many cities have charity 5k walk/runs this time of year. Simply enter your location in this walk/run finder, and you’ll find a list of upcoming races. Many are family friendly and allow strollers. Plus, there’s something to be said for the collective energy generated from a group of people with a common goal that motivates you to up the ante. Even if you don’t break any personal records, you’ll still have fun for a good cause.
Turn play into movement.
Kids are full of energy and always need an outlet. Show them that playtime can also be a form of exertion. Dr. Pamela Peeke, a triathlete, adjunct professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and spokeswoman on exercise and nutrition for the American College of Sports Medicine, suggests the “sit-stand-high-five” routine. The instructions are simple: “Position two chairs to face each other. Sit. Stand. High five. Repeat.”
The beauty of this activity is that kids internalize it as play and not necessarily as exercise. But in reality, it involves exertion and is good for their development. In other words, playtime can be productive because it encourages kids to associate movement as a part of their routine, not a chore or something to dread. That can lay the foundation for a healthy relationship with exercise.
Jump ropes pack a mean punch as far as exercise equipment goes. They’re small enough to fit in an overnight bag and can introduce kids to cardio play. As younger kids are still developing their balance and coordination skills, they might need some help getting the hang of it. But once they do, they will be sneaking in exercise with every turn of the rope.
Keep it simple.
While you may be used to intense 60-minute sweat sessions at the gym, the holidays can put a cramp in your style and challenge you to get creative. And that’s not a bad thing! Is there a way you can sneak in 5 or 10 minutes of movement in your day? For example, bodyweight exercises like pushups, lunges and squats can be just the ticket to maintaining some semblance of a routine when away from home. Bonus: Teach the kids these moves, and you might turn your workout into a family affair.
These are just a few ways to make family fitness a priority. With some outside-the-box thinking, you can enjoy a healthier holiday. After all, the gift of health is priceless.