Monday, November 06, 2006

10 Ways to Improve Your Family's Fitness

Increasing family fitness doesn’t require a lot of time or money. The most effective way to make progress is by making numerous small changes over a long period of time. You didn’t get out of shape overnight and you’re not going to get into shape overnight. It’s about making lifestyle changes you can live with. Concentrate on making smart, healthy choices and you will continue to make forward progress.

Get up and go for a walk. Lace up those shoes and get everyone out the door! You don't have to go at a brisk pace if you don't want to. In fact, if you have little kids, you know you’re not going to go very fast. The important thing is to get out and get moving. Show your kids what it means to be active.

Purge your pantry. Start with your pre-packaged, processed foods. Sure, they're convenient, but what are you really gaining in the long run? Excess calories, sugar, sodium and fat, all of which are counterproductive to a healthy lifestyle.

Plan a healthy menu for tomorrow. It only takes a few minutes! Sit down and figure out what to make without relying on fast food, fried choices and oversized portions.

Start up a game. Head outside for family friendly soccer, basketball, football, baseball or softball. Or how about Frisbee, badminton, or just an old-fashioned game of tag?

Talk to your kids about their choices. Do your kids know the difference between a "sometimes" food and an "every day" food? Help them look at the options from their school lunch menu or their favorite restaurant so they can see the difference. A treat once in a while is fine, but be sure they understand what that means.

Read nutrition labels. Teach your kids how to read the Nutrition Facts and the ingredients on their favorite foods. Compare cereals and see if you can agree on which choice is the healthiest. Or taste test healthy salad dressings and snack options so they can give their input.

Take a break and stretch. Even if yoga is not your thing, it only takes a few minutes to get a healthy stretch. Get the whole family involved in this one for a fun before bedtime or first thing in the morning ritual.

Make the parking lot your gym. Don't automatically go for the closest space to the store. Park a little farther away and you'll burn more calories walking back and forth, and pushing that cart of healthy groceries! Just running an errand? Walk or ride your bike if you can.

Turn off the TV, computer and video games. Sitting on the couch is not getting you anywhere. Instead of going your separate ways after dinner, have a family chat. Talk about your new choices, your challenges, and how you feel about the changes.

Substitute healthier choices. Replace one soda with water each day, swap a dessert for a piece of fruit, exchange chips for veggie sticks. Small changes over a length of time add up to a new, healthier lifestyle.

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