Easy, Fun, Affordable Ways to Get the Whole Family Healthy and Fit

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Consult your physician before starting a new fitness routine.

September 27, 2014 is a day that all families should take the time to celebrate. What is it? Family Health & Fitness Day. As April Masini (AskApril) says, “Families that stay fit together create a healthy dynamic that their children can use in other relationships beyond their nuclear family — no matter what age.” How can you work to improve the health and fitness of your family without breaking the bank? We asked parenting and fitness experts for their advice.

Plan Seasonal Activities

“One great way that families can stay active is by syncing up with the seasonal professional sports,” Robert Nickell, parenting expert and founder of Daddy & Co., details. “For example, during the World Cup, have a family soccer game in the backyard or at the local park before every major game. During NFL season, have family football games every Sunday. During the NHL season, go skating or play pond hockey. Your family can also play basketball and baseball games at the local park during those sport seasons. You can also get all the equipment for cheap by hitting up the local secondhand stores. This is a great way for the family to bond and stay in shape together!”

Make Time for Regular Family Activities

Lisa Reed, owner of Lisa Reed Fitness LLC, recommends making family activities a normal part of your day and week. You may want to take a family walk after dinner, or make a Saturday morning walk a family habit. “Choose an activity that fits into your daily life,” she recommends. “Being physically active with your family is a great way to spend time together. Play with your kids 30 minutes a day, or dance to music.”

Make Small But Important Meal Changes

Lisa Reed has a number of small food-related tips that parents can easily implement. For example, serve water or low-fat milk at meals instead of soda or sugary drinks. Also, “cut high-calorie foods like cheese and chocolate into small pieces and only eat a few pieces. Share amongst family members for a small treat.” Above all else, though, Reed says, “Ensure your family eats breakfast every day.”

Go Hiking!

Sara Haley, fitness expert, recommends hitting the hiking trails. “Going out for a family hike is a perfect way to entertain the adventurous kid with a huge imagination! Getting the kids off their smartphones and tablets might be a challenge, but the reward will be worth it. Hiking is great for family bonding and building leg and butt strength! Plus, walking at an incline increases the number of calories you burn, possibly as much as 200 calories for 45 minutes.”

Plan Family Bike Rides

Haley also recommends hitting the biking trails. “It’s an activity that can fit into most schedules — morning, noon or early evening. Bike riding helps to increase cardio endurance, burn calories and is a lot less stressful on the knees, ankles and spine than a lot of other cardio options.”

Go for Variety and Fun

April Masini of AskApril.com emphasizes that this family fitness time should be fun, so don’t be afraid to try new things. “Family fitness night, day, week, weekend — whatever your schedule allows — should be fun and something that is a priority in your family. Don’t turn it into ‘same old same old.’ Instead, mix up bowling with hiking somewhere new and fun. Mix up seasonal fitness with different games and activities that will let your inner kid out!”

Make Cooking and Food Shopping a Family Activity

Rachel Sherwood, culinary expert, suggests making food a family activity. “That one simple choice to cook a meal from scratch, not with processed and already prepared items, is a step in the right direction. Even if it is mac and cheese or fried chicken, it will always be better for you to cook it at home than eat out or get takeout. When you cook at home, you instantly cut out all the extra preservatives, additives and a fair amount of sodium with most items. Instead of letting children watch TV while you prepare a meal, invite them into the kitchen with you. And when they are old enough, invite them to the grocery store with you. Ask your child to help you select fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods.”

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