Family walking their dogA family trip to the movies, ballgame or local attraction can easily approach $100.00. Such outings are nice, but are there other ways to have fun, make memories and bond as a family? You bet! Try exercise. Whether you break out the bikes or play ball, take a hike or climb a rock wall, you’ve made a winning choice. Your kids learn that you value an active lifestyle, and the family bonds while having fun. As a bonus, you save a few bucks and burn some calories, too. Not bad for an afternoon (or morning). Try these strategies for setting an exercise example with your kids.

Be a family that plays together

Many weekend warriors and fitness enthusiasts value exercise for its restorative value. It is a time to clear your head, blow off some steam or catch up with a pal during a friendly competition. In other words, exercise is “me” time, no kids allowed. If that sounds like you, you can still set an example:

  • Talk with your children about exercise and why you enjoy it. They will benefit from your modeling as well as sharing about your healthy habit.
  • Encourage your children to develop their own exercise plan. Maybe your runner would like to try out for track or your water lover wants to join the swim team. Support these budding dreams and open time on the family calendar to help them come true.
  • Plan a regular active family outing. Maybe the third Saturday of each month you go for a bike ride or practice yoga.

Set family fitness goals

Many parents talk with children often about education or money. They even talk about substance abuse but rarely about fitness. These conversations are increasingly important as rates of chronic illness and obesity have risen even among very young children. Decide together as a family:

  • How often you will exercise. 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly is recommended, but any amount is helpful to start.
  • How you will celebrate when you meet your goal each month.
  • If you will set and meet a family challenge, such as running a race or conquering a new sport together.

Look for easy ways to move more

  • Walk the dog daily.
  • Have relay races in your driveway.
  • Do fitness videos or dance in the living room.
  • Start a garden- that’s good exercise, and if you plant vegetables you get the added benefit of nutrition with fitness.

The key is to find ways to weave exercise into your regular family routine. Children come to learn what we value by what we do more than by what we say. If your current lifestyle and health habits don’t show your children you value exercise there is an easy way to change the message you are sending by being sedentary – get moving.