Most adults think that exercise means sweating at the gym on a treadmill during a “workout”. But kids don’t think about exercise, they just move while having fun – if you give them limits on their use of video games, t.v. and internet. Remember when games of hopscotch, jump rope and tag would break out spontaneously any time a group of 3 or more kids were together? It’s all about having fun, because when you’re having fun it can’t be work – right?
As parents, we need to take an active role in promoting physical activity for our children. First, we need to start moving ourselves. If we’re sedentary, then we’re not setting the example of the value of physical fitness. Research shows that physical activity, among other benefits, produces a leaner body, lowers the risk of diabetes, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels and helps to produce a positive outlook on life.
So now that spring is just around the corner, it’s a perfect time to begin taking steps to become more active, not just for yourself, but active as a family. The key to developing ideas for fun family activities is to think like a kid and not think about “working out”. First, identify the physical activity your children are already doing and start by joining in with them. Let them teach you how to play and follow their lead. Do you have a trampoline? Get out there and try a few seat drops.
Introduce your children to the games you played back in the day of the dinosaur (as my 12 and 14 year olds constantly remind me). Recall the games you played when you were their ages. Even hopscotch, jump rope and tag can be adjusted in difficulty to be age appropriate. Remember the pogo stick? They’re still available.
Here in northern Arizona we are at a huge advantage with the climate and geography. Make your family activities a journey with a bike ride or a hike. Our region is surrounded by forest service roads. Flagstaff has the FUTS trail system. All make great routes for an hour bike ride or simple hike. We have an abundance of national parks and monuments at our disposal as well as more established and maintained hiking trails than you can experience in a lifetime. All provide for a days worth of fantastic family activity.
The red rocks of Sedona make for some of the most beautiful day trips on the bike or on foot for most of the year when the temperature is cooler. The trails around Flagstaff are better suited to warmer months, especially the fantastic hikes in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness area.
Last weekend my family and I, along with our dogs, took a hike up and into Colton Crater, north east of Flagstaff. There are no formal trails there which made it a fun exploration and exercise in finding the best way up and down. We had a small picnic lunch and had a great time. The round trip time from our house and back was a total of five hours. Enough time for some video game playing when we returned.
If you’re unsure of the good places to hike or bike hit the book store. There are plenty of hiking guide books for all of Arizona. You can also start by checking out these links for ideas:
For more ideas on finding fun exercise for your family, try these web sites.