Here are some tips for boosting your family’s activity level:
Turn off the screens
Before you can make exercise a regular part of your family life, you’ll have to encourage everyone to break away from their screens. Ideally, kids should only look at screens on phones, televisions and other devices for an hour or less every day. Discourage any screen time for children under 18 months old, unless they’re video chatting with the grandparents. Children 18–24 months old should not watch screens by themselves.
Plan ahead for play
If exercise isn’t a priority, it won’t happen. Play tag, soccer, go to the park or shoot hoops in the backyard together – kids need at least an hour of moderate to vigorous play daily.
Provide active toys
Think balls, jump ropes, and hula hoops. Keep an eye out for used bikes, tricycles, and ride-on toys. Just having these things around can help you and your child sneak in active time. Ask a specialist at the national organization HealthySteps for a list of nearby community parks and other resources that support active play.
Schedule regular nature outings
It’s beautiful. It’s relaxing. And spending time in nature on weekends and after school seems to be “widely effective” in lowering symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
If it’s pouring outside or your neighborhood isn’t safe for play, try doing a Freeze Dance with the kids: Have everyone dance to some of their favorite songs until the “DJ” turns off the music. The person who freezes last loses that round. If the kids get tired of freezing, practice some new dance moves together.
Play balloon games
Push chairs out of the way and see who can keep the balloon up in the air the longest — or tie a string across the room and play Balloon Volleyball. If you have small children, supervise balloon play and be sure to store them out of reach after you’re through (balloons are a choking hazard for little ones).
Practice jump ropes.
The cool thing about jump ropes is that you can twirl them inside or out. Try teaching your kids some of your favorite chants – you’ll feel like a kid, and so will they.