Fitness fun for the whole family

Tomorrow is Family Health and Fitness Day USA.  To celebrate, hundreds of locations throughout the country are hosting events that promote good health.  Check with your local YMCA or YWCA, health club, park, school, or house of worship to find out if they are sponsoring any type of health- or fitness-related activity tomorrow.

Of course, it’s best for families to focus on being healthy and fit not just one day of the year, but 365 days.  Read on for some free and low-cost fitness ideas that are fun for the whole family.

  • Going somewhere?  Whether it’s shopping, the dentist’s office, or to a restaurant, don’t choose the parking spot closest to the door.  Provided the area is safe and well-lit, park farther away so you and whichever family members accompanied you can get a brief brisk walk in before you reach your destination.
  • Encourage your family to take after-dinner walks around the neighborhood on nights when the weather is good.
  • Plan a family gardening day.  Place the flowers to be planted, the bucket that will hold pulled-out weeds, and any dirt or mulch or garden stones across the yard.  Those steps you keep taking to walk back and forth to the garden will add up!
  • Instead of a family movie night, plan a family fitness night.  Have healthy snacks like cut-up veggies and hummus dip, or cut-up fruit with low-fat yogurt to dip it in, and plenty of water.  Rent or purchase a beginner-level fitness DVD, and do the exercises together.  (As always, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.)
  • If you live close to the grocery store, pharmacy, or any other place where you frequently shop, consider walking or biking there in nice weather and if it’s safe to do so.  You can always add a small basket to your bicycle to help you transport a bag or two home.
  • Check your local advertisements and see if there are any gyms or fitness centers in your area offering any trial memberships.  (Again, before you begin any type of new exercise, check with your doctor and get their OK first.)
  • Scour sites like Groupon.com and LivingSocial.com for discounted yoga classes, gym memberships, and more.
  • Don’t be a couch potato!  Watch TV from the floor, not the couch, and do some squats–even if it’s only at commercials, every little bit helps.  And if you are afraid of looking silly squatting while watching TV, don’t worry–your whole family will be doing the same thing, so they can’t judge! 
  • Use wanting to be more fit as an excuse to try a new, healthy activity, like rock climbing, training for a marathon, hiking a local state park…there are so many possibilities!
  • Make Fido happy–take the dog on an extended walk, and bring the whole family along!

Did you know that advocacy can help you get fit and stay fit?  Services like Health Advocate and Health Proponent can connect you with a Wellness Coach to help you manage your health and fitness goals.  They can also find you a local doctor who can evaluate whether exercise is right for you, or they can help you find a nutritionist who can determine if you should modify your diet to meet your health goals.

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