Families on vacation and those of us who live at the Jersey Shore often look for fun things to do together, and few things are more fun than physical activity. Choosing activities that combine fun with physical activity is a great way to bond as a family and get healthy at the same time.
• Give gifts that encourage activity: Whether buying gifts for local use or when vacationing think about “active” gift giving. Both youngsters and adults are enamored with the latest gadgets, but tablets and video game consoles won't do much to make families more physically active. In lieu of toys that promote sedentary lifestyles, give kids toys that encourage physical activity. Perhaps go buy new or used bicycles for the whole family, resolving to go for a nightly ride together.
• Restrict TV time: Establish house rules regarding how many hours of television kids and adults can watch each day. Kids will follow their parents' lead with regard to how much television they watch, so parents should be mindful of their own viewing habits, resisting the temptation to plop down on the couch for several hours each night. Don't turn on the television at night until the whole family has engaged in some physical activity.
• Walk or ride bikes to run errands: When running errands in town, take the kids along and walks or ride bicycles rather than drive. This is a great time for families to catch up, and walking or riding a bicycle is great exercise for adults and kids alike.
• Schedule physical activities for the weekends and vacations: When planning weekends, parents can schedule a physical activity for the whole family. Make time to go hiking at a nearby park or schedule a family basketball game in the driveway. Such activities are healthy, and they don't have to cost much money, either.
• Volunteer as a family: Another way to get up and go as a family is to work with a local nonprofit or charitable organization. Sign the family up for monthly park or beach cleanup projects that get the family out of the house and moving. Or sign the family up to work at a local soup kitchen where kids can learn the value of helping others while staying on their feet.
• Let kids plan activities: One great way to get kids excited about an active lifestyle is to let them plan family activities. This holds true especially when planning a vacation. Kids who are encouraged to come up with activities, whether it's visiting the zoo or going kayaking as a family, are more likely to embrace those activities.
Families on vacation and those of us that live at the Jersey Shore can find plenty to do when looking to get up and go!