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Staying at, or close to, home most of the time has become the new normal for many families this year. And the more time spent at home, the more inclined we become toward more sedentary activity—lots of sitting, lots of screens—for both kids and grown-ups. But just because you may not be able to go to the local gym or swimming pool, doesn’t mean you can’t stay active.
Here are four ways to make exercise a routine for your whole family:
Set Goals: Set specific, achievable, effective goals. For example, instead of “Exercise more,” which is very broad, you could say, “Take a 30 minute walk every day.”
Schedule Activities (and reschedule or cancel if a conflict comes up): Choose times of the day/week when everyone is most likely stick to the schedule. Start with 30-minute activities, so you can be sure to complete them.
Track Progress: Post a personalized activity calendar on the fridge or in a location the whole family can view. Mark when activities are completed and celebrate achievements.
Share Success: The more you exercise, the prouder you’ll feel, and you can share that achievement with your family, friends, and neighbors.
Here are some ideas for activities to get you started:
Celebrate special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries) with something active, such as a hike, soccer game, frisbee, a visit to the zoo, etc.
Walk or bike instead of drive whenever you can. If you must drive, find a spot at the far end of the parking lot and walk to where you’re going. Count the number of steps from the car to your destination.
Get the whole family involved in household chores. Cleaning, vacuuming, doing laundry, washing the car, and more, are all great ways to get moving.
Do yard work as a family, such as raking leaves or shoveling snow. The more you work together, the faster the chores will go, and sooner you can play together.
Digging in the dirt and planting a veggie garden is a great workout that teaches kids about healthy eating (and gets them excited to eat the stuff they planted).
Walk the dog! Your pup needs exercise, too. Don’t have a pet? Take a walk with your kids and search for dogs or cats around your neighborhood.
At the grocery store, have kids walk instead of riding in the cart and allow them to help find grocery items.
Take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator whenever possible.
Build a pre- or post-dinner walk into your daily schedule. It helps with digestion.
Start a new hobby together or train as a family for a charity walk or run.