10 Tips for Starting a Family Exercise Program

Childhood obesity is a concern for about 17 percent of children in the United States. The complications of children being overweight include diabetes, increased cholesterol and an increased chance of gallstones and acid reflux disease. Children who are obese are also more likely to stay obese as adults. Although a healthy diet is essential to prevent childhood obesity, exercise also plays an important part. Children who exercise with their family may stick with there program and develop healthy exercise habits, which continue into adulthood. Follow the tips below for family exercise.


1. Review everyone’s schedule and decide what would work. Get your family together and find the best days of the week and times to exercise together. Be realistic about what you can do. Shoot for two exercise sessions a week together.

2. Decide on activities together. Have every family member participate in choosing activities they would like to do. Consider taking turns selecting what you will all do for your family exercise time.

3. Learn a new fitness activity or sport together. Take into consideration everyone’s age and fitness level and pick a new activity that would be fun to learn. For instance, take skiing lessons, or go to a rock climbing gym. If you have older kids or teens, consider learning doubles tennis or flag football.

4. Add a little competition. Consider timing each other when running or swimming to determine who is the fastest. Split into teams and play a sport like soccer or basketball. Award small prizes for the winners.

5. Be consistent. All families have times they may have to skip an exercise session, but try to have set times every week where you exercise. Staying consistent, will help make exercise a habit for your family.

6. As a parent, set a good example. Although almost no one feels like exercising every time, try to limit complaining about it. Lead by showing a positive attitude about exercise.

7. Find things you can do together at home. Consider setting up a gym at home. Exercise equipment, such as a jump rope, mini trampoline, exercise bands and an exercise ball can provide a full body workout at home.

8. Think outside the box. Set up an obstacle coarse in the back yard. Have swim races if you have a pool. Go hiking and explore a local park. Take a karate class together.

9. Set family and individual goals. Whether it is to learn a new sport, run a marathon or increase speed, setting fitness goals help family members stay motivated.

10. Make it fun. Run around the backyard and play tag or jump rope. Buy a dance fitness DVD and have a dance party at home. Even some video games have fitness options families may enjoy.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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