Physical activity is a vital part of staying healthy and being active can help kids and adults have healthier weights, less fat, and stronger muscles and bones. It can also lessen feelings of depression, and boost confidence. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) says that kids ages 17 and under get at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. The DHHS recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes a week of physical activity.
A child with healthy habits is more likely to grow into an adult with healthy habits. When physical activities are a family priority, they can help give children a great foundation for a healthy life. This New Year, make fitness a priority and work on your goals as a family
Dr Cristina Halk shares her tips for crushing your family’s fitness goals in 2019.
- Write down an activity goal. Start with something small that you and your family can reach together. Be specific. For example, decide to do 30 minutes of activity 4 days a week for 4 weeks.
- Create a family activity calendar. Plug in activities for each week like going on a family hike, walking the dog, or playing sports. Post it in a spot where everyone in the family can see it.
- Make a menu of fun choices. A list of activity ideas can get the ball rolling. Think of activities that work best for your child’s age. See the list below for some choices.
- Let your child help pick activities. If your child is involved with choosing activities, he or she may be more excited about them.
- Track your progress. Put fun stickers or notes on the calendar to celebrate milestones and other achievements.
- Limit TV and computer time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 hour to 2 hours of “screen time” per day.
- Reschedule, don’t cancel. If something comes up and you have to miss activity time, plug the activity into a new time slot.
- Set challenges. Create small contests for your family members. Who can climb the most stairs in a week? Who can be the first to walk the dog 3 times? Offer small rewards like special stickers on the calendar, or colorful certificates.
- Make it social. Invite neighbors or your children’s friends to join your activities. You can invite them into your challenges, too.
- Be positive and encouraging. Physical activity is easier for some kids, and harder for others. Overweight children may feel self-conscious. Let your child go at his or her own pace, and offer support and encouragement. Promote a positive attitude. Positive experiences with activity will make it easier to keep your child involved and interested.
- Be a role model. Your positive attitude about activity will help your child see it as an important part of a healthy life.
10 fun ideas for family activity time:
Try some of these activities with your family for a fun fitness routine.
- Dance in the living room to your favorite songs
- Do house and yard work together
- Garden together
- Go hiking in a local park
- Help clean a local park
- Play an active video game that involves fun body movement
- Play games like tag, catch, or Frisbee
- Play sports like soccer, basketball, tennis, or badminton
- Ride your bikes together
- Take regular family walks on weekend mornings, after dinner, and any other time you can.
With all the activity ideas, keeping your child safe should be a priority too. Don’t forget a helmet for bike riding, rollerblading, roller skating and using their scooter! Make sure that your child is wearing proper footwear for exercise like tennis shoes.
About Dr. Halk
Dr. Cristina Shelton Halk specializes in Pediatrics at Children’s Pediatrics. After earning her medical degree from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, Dr. Halk completed residency at Baylor College of Medicine within Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas.
Dr. Halk chose to practice primary care pediatrics because, “I enjoy partnering with kids, their families, and their communities to ensure children lead healthy lives. I am passionate about early invention services, educating patients and families on preventative medicine and environmental safety, and using the highest quality medical evidence in combination with the unique needs of a child to guide medical decision making. I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Children’s Hospital of New Orleans and to serve the community of St. Tammany Parish and look forward to being a part of children’s lives from birth to adulthood.”