Family fitness; 5 simple ideas to start this spring!

My oldest son Colin and I hiked Philmont Scout Ranch together when he was 14 years old.
My oldest son Colin and I hiked Philmont Scout Ranch together when he was 14 years old.

When my boys were growing up we were all fairly active.They didn’t watch too much TV and fortunately for us video games didn’t really exist. They played little league baseball in the summer and basketball in the winter. They played soccer as well. They were mostly burning off energy being boys. Today there are family distractions of your time that if not watched may lead to some unhealthy behaviors and habits that will be hard to break in the future.

Because kids and parents are less active today there is a rise in obesity, depression and family discord. Distractions of your attention away from healthy habits include;

  1. Processed food (its easy to prepare, it looks healthy when it’s not, and it tastes good because of the non-natural ingredients especially sugar)
  2. Video games (they are so prevalent that most smart phones have free apps to play against yourself but also friends and most of the games you’re sitting doing them and getting no exercise except your fingers. The reason they are free is you’re bombarded with advertisements.)
  3. Television programing (unfortunately many programs are not painting the picture of healthy families)
  4. Social media (The connection to other human beings has a powerful draw of our time to use social media such as FaceBook, Twitter and Pinterest. Just the light these smart phones emit at night wreak havoc with your ability to sleep sound and the emotions they can create from reading a post can be disconcerting.)

Taking those distractions into account I’ve created five simple ideas to use to transition your family this spring and start creating new and healthy family habits.

  1. Plan family time away from the four distractions. Even if it’s just one night a week would be a great start. It could be a bike ride, a game outside of hide and seek or creating a Frisbee golf course in the back yard. One night a month have a family get together, perhaps at a weekend meal, with a family fun calendar. The key is to plan it and involve all the family members in creating it. Assignments may include a treat, being in charge of the event or inviting other people to attend.
  2. Plant a small garden. You could plant some tomatoes in an old barrel or maybe some flowers. Each family member could have their own garden plot and plant what ever they wanted and then at least once a week the family would cultivate, take photos and gather around the garden to take part.
  3. Prepare healthy snacks in advance and eat them during the day and night. This way they’ll avoid the tendency to just grab a bag of potato chips or get an unhealthy diet or regular soda to drink because it’s convenient.
  4. Make it more fun to do something healthy than it is to watch TV, play a video game or connect on a smart phone. This is one that will take creativity and will be unique to your family. A hobby such as painting or building a model of the USS Constitution might work. Flying kites or a remote-controlled air craft would be fun. Go fishing. Perhaps producing fun videos with a GoPro camera and uploading to Family YouTube site. Even Wii fit has some games that make you move and are best done as a family.
  5. Start a small family business. Did you know that at the turn of the century in 1900 that almost 90% of the population was self-employed and many families participated in a family business? It doesn’t have to be anything major because the aim is to teach family unity, thrift and work ethics. It could be done at nights and on weekends and the entire family enjoys the profit by taking a family vacation.