Commentary by Debra Balos, DO, IU Health Physicians Family Medicine – Zionsville
Engaging in fun activities is part of the joy of being a family. When the fun involves physical activity, the benefits of spending time together extend to improving your family’s health. As a parent, you play a powerful role in encouraging a healthy lifestyle. And when exercise is a regular part of your family’s routine, it’s more likely your children will grow up to be active adults.
For both adults and children, the benefits of physical activity are well documented. In addition to increasing life expectancy, frequent exercise helps manage weight, decreases fat and develops strong muscles and bones. Physical activity also helps prevent diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. It boosts confidence and can alleviate feelings of depression. Specifically for children, exercise improves performance in school and burns off energy.
The key to instilling good exercise habits at a young age, however, is making sure physical activity is fun. If exercise feels like play, it’s easier to stick to the game plan. Here are some ideas for how to include “playful” exercise into your family life:
Plan family outings that get you moving. Possibilities include trips to the zoo, an ice skating rink, or a family outing to play miniature golf.
Sign up as a family for “fun runs” or charity walks. Not only are these events great ways to stay active, they also show family support for worthwhile causes.
Take a walk or a bike ride after dinner. Especially when the weather’s nice, resist the urge to turn on the TV in the evening, and exercise outdoors instead. Other options include shooting hoops or playing catch.
Participate in sports as a family. Some great family-friendly sports include tennis, golf, swimming, skiing and skating.
As you plan activities, be sure to let your kids have a say. They will be more excited and eager to participate if they are able to make some of the choices. Using these tips as a guide, your family will be well on your way to a healthier future.
Debra Balos, DO, specializes in family medicine. She is a guest columnist located at IU Health Physicians Family Medicine – Zionsville, 55 Brendon Way, Suite 800, in Zionsville. She can be reached by calling the office at 777-6400.