This year’s Family Health & Fitness Day falls on Saturday, September 29. This annual event promotes a healthy lifestyle and encourages families to spend time together in fulfilling, active ways.
National Today points out that “a staggering amount of people — 80.2 million over the age of six, to be exact — are physically inactive.” This leads to over $190 billion in healthcare costs each year for obesity-related physical illness, according to the National League of Cities. National Today also points out that physical education is only required in six states in the US. Compounded with this is the fact that one out of every three high school student spends three or more hours a day playing video or computer games.
Family fitness activities are a great way to combat these unhealthy national habits — and they help both children and adults alike! “Being active doesn’t just benefit kids,” says child psychologist Dr Sasha Lynn, “it benefits parents too. It can help us to also balance out our mood states, reconnecting with our kids on ‘neutral territory’.” In an interview with PBS, author and fitness expert Debbie Mandel shared that, “Children who exercise do better academically and learn how to reduce stress. In essence, adults in the household are showing children a healthy way to relieve stress and improve their thinking while they (the adults) practice what they preach. Children are always observing their parents and picking up on their body language, not just their words.”
To get things going, we’re sharing 10 of our favorite ideas for you and your family for this year’s Family Health and Fitness day:
1. Go on a hike in the woods and do a scavenger hunt for animal tracks, bird feathers, wildlife, bird nests, and more.
2. Organize a game of kickball with your neighbors, friends or family and have a potluck picnic in the park afterward.
3. Have a Four-Square Tournament on your driveway. You’ll need chalk, at least four players, and a rubber ball. Here are the instructions from Parents magazine: “Draw a 12″ x 12″ square on your driveway. Divide into four squares, A, B, C, and D. One player stands in each square. The player in A starts by bouncing the ball in his square, then batting it with open hands into another square. That player must hit the ball into another square. When one player misses or hits the ball out of bounds, he moves to D, the players behind him advance, and you begin again.”
4. Writer Aviva Patz suggests having a family dance party! Turn on your favorite music, crank it up, and dance, dance, dance!
5. Go on a walk before or after dinner and set up some fun rules for everyone to do together. For example, perhaps you decide to always take two right turns and then a left turn; or perhaps you decide that everyone has to jump up and down when you pass a blue car.
6. Do some gardening together. Pick out a new plant or some seeds to put in the ground or a pot, and watch it grow.
7. Visit your local roller skating rink!
8. Go to your local farmer’s market or walk to the grocery store and gather healthy items to make a meal together.
9. Ride your bikes and explore your neighborhood or town. Find five new things you’ve each never noticed before.
10. Go to the zoo or to a local wildlife park. Some museums, such as the Museum of Life and Science in Raleigh, also have wildlife components.
While Saturday’s national Family Fun and Fitness event is a good motivator to try new family physical activities, the truth is that everyone would benefit from fitness activities with family and friends year round. We hope you find the activities you love and are able to do them with the people you love. Be well.