Observed each year on the last Saturday in September, National Family Health and Fitness Day was established with a goal of spurring increased family involvement in physical activities — together. This mission is worthwhile, of course, because families that regularly exercise together tend to be healthier and doing so is a great way to model healthy habits to the younger generations.
This year, the observance falls on Saturday, Sept. 25, and it offers a great opportunity to get out and get active as a family. To spur ideas for the adventure, here are eight suggestions for fun, family-friendly activities that every member of the crew can enjoy:
- Let the kids pick a way to play: As most parents are aware, children tend to be more enthusiastic about any activity they get to play a role in choosing. And on that note, parents could consider mentioning the important purpose of National Family Health and Fitness Day, then letting the younger set decide on the specific activity of choice. Whether it is hopscotch, tag, soccer or something else — if it gets the family moving, mission accomplished.
- Take a pedal-powered ride: Biking is a great way to get around and to get in some exercise along the way. Assuming the family lives in an area with safe options for doing so, both the grown-ups and the kids can take a ride to the grocery store, the playground, the park or the library rather than driving there. Most areas offer paved and/or off-road trails that provide excellent opportunities for getting out and getting active on two wheels.
- Hit the trail together: Hiking offers the opportunity to get out and discover nature together, all while bonding as a family and taking steps toward better health. For National Family Health and Fitness Day, parents could do a bit of research about the trails available in their area, then pick a favorite and pack the whole crew in the car for a trek to the trailhead. Bonus: Many trails allow the family pet to join in on the fun!
- Take a stroll: If the trailhead is too far away for easy access (or if the family would simply prefer to keep things close to home), a walk around the neighborhood as a group is another good way to get some steps in together. And, in addition to being a solid choice for National Family Health and Fitness Day, this activity’s easy accessibility makes it a great candidate for turning into an enduring habit. To accomplish this, families should aim to work an evening stroll into the daily routine, perhaps before or after dinner.
- Cut the bore from the chores: To get in a bit of group exercise while also knocking out some of the household chores, multi-tasking families can consider turning cleaning day into a fun workout. One way to do this is to let family members take turns picking the soundtrack, then sing and dance while sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, dusting and performing other cleaning tasks around the house. The whole family can work up a sweat, and by working together, the chores can be completed in a flash.
- Put cardio (and other exercises) in the cards: Families can make workouts a fun game by assigning a different exercise to each suit in a deck of cards. (For example, hearts could be jumping jacks, clubs could be push-ups, spades could be sit-ups and diamonds could be squats.) Then participating players can let the luck of their draws determine the exercise and number of reps they perform. A five of hearts would equal five jumping jacks while a king of clubs would call for 10 push-ups, etc.
- Blaze a path to the playground: Most kids love a trip to the playground and the active play they pursue there can provide a great workout. This makes spending time together on common playground equipment such as the monkey bars, swings, slides and see-saws a great way to encourage healthful activities on National Family Health and Fitness Day.
- Have fun with a favorite sport: Whether it is baseball, basketball, football, soccer or something else, sports offer an excellent opportunity for a family to get active together as a team. Whatever the sport of choice is, breaking out the ball and striking up a game as a family is a perfect way to mark National Family Health and Fitness Day.
Whatever activity a family chooses to pursue together, exercise delivers a range of health-boosting benefits for both kids and adults, including lowering heart-related risks, helping with weight control, improving memory and reducing anxiety. And whether it serves to get a good habit started or to keep an established one going, National Family Health and Fitness Day offers a great opportunity to get the whole family moving.
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