The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, sponsored by the American Heart Association and William J. Clinton Foundation and dedicated to battling childhood obesity, has issued eight ways families can get fit together. We list those eight ways below and go one step further, suggesting specific ways you can make this happen NOW! Meaning this week now.
- Take a walk. Stroll together after a family meal or walk around the mall when it’s cold or raining. Just walking in your neighborhood is great exercise; as we mentioned yesterday, living in North Carolina means your neighborhood may be a little more interesting than you think. And if your kids think walking is boring, bring along some props to liven things up. When our kids were smaller, we’d often set out for a neighborhood “walk” with skateboards, rollerblades, a Ripstik and a Trikke, swapping toys along the way.
- Choose an outing. Spend a weekend afternoon going to a pool, skating rink or basketball court. Right now, with winterlike temperatures, a good bet in this part of the country is a visit to your local North Carolina State Park. At Crowders Mountain near Charlotte, for instance, you can scramble about at The Boulders access area. In Wilmington there’s Carolina Beach, where there’s a unique collection of carnivorous plants. The Triangle has miles of hiking at Eno River and Umstead, while the Triad has great views from atop Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock.
- Take breaks. Try to fit in 10 to 15 minutes of rigorous physical activity several times a day. At our house, we call it, “Hey kids, let’s go play in the street!” time. We live at the end of a cul de sac, the perfect arena for kickball and Whiffleball and, more often, a combination of the two.
- Team up. Have the family sign up for a group run, walk or car wash. You don’t have to run a 5K, you just need to finish it. And even if you don’t think you can walk 3.1 miles, odds are that once you get caught up in the pomp, pagentry and comradery of a typical 5K, the miles will pass before you know it. Upcoming 5Ks around the state (we’ll give you a couple weeks of training to get ready): 4th Annual Sweetheart 5K and 1-Mile Family Fun Run, Rocky Mount, Feb. 4; 32nd Annual Run for the Roses, Raleigh, Feb. 11, Frostbike 5K, 10K and 1-Mile Family Fun Run, Hendersonville, Feb. 19, St. Leo’s School 5K, Winston-Salem, March 17, Winter Classic 8K and Kids Run, Charlotte, January 28.
- Limit TV. Select which shows kids will watch ahead of time and limit screen time to just those programs. A good first step: No screens in your kids’ rooms.
- Join a club. Buy a family membership to a town recreation center, YMCA or health club. Better yet, join a family-fitness-oriented Meetup group. And if you can’t find one in your area, start one. Start the process here.
- Learn something new. Have family members take a lesson in an activity, such as martial arts, fencing or gymnastics. Opportunities abound at your local parks and rec department. In Raleigh, for instance, you can learn the above as well as how to scale a mountain or right a flipped kayak, among a myriad of other things. Track down your local parks and rec department here.
- Chores count. Working together around the house or in the yard is another way families can stay active. Yes, kids, it’s true: Working around the house can be good for you. And parents, you can use this as an alternative if the kids balk at taking a hike or a Whiffleball break.
Scrub the toilet vs. playing kickball? We’re guessing you won’t have a problem.
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