Active Families Build a Healthy Future

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle offers short-term and long-term benefits for children and families. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recommend that children and adolescents aged 6-17 years should have 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day.

According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, research shows links to higher grades, better school attendance, a sound night’s sleep, improved social skills, stress relief and improved behavior. This demonstrates how a little exercise can promote success in all aspects of a child’s life.

May is National Health and Fitness Month. Nearly one out of four (24.7%) children ages 10-17 are overweight or obese in New Jersey which makes it even more important to get active with your kids!

There are countless ways to enjoy physical activity together as a family. Here are some simple ideas to get you started:

Play tag, swim, toss a ball, jump rope, hula-hoop, dance to music or even play a dancing video game. It doesn’t have to be sports—just get your family moving!

Have ‘happy feet’ during commercial breaks during any TV time – let the kids alternate choosing the activity that everyone will do throughout the commercial breaks! Lots of giggling fun!

Celebrate special occasions—like birthdays or anniversaries—with something active, such as a hike, a swim at a local lake or park, volleyball or soccer game or playing Frisbee at the park.

Bring some fun to household chores like cleaning, vacuuming, washing the car, and yard work by pumping up some upbeat music in the background!

Park farther away and count with your children the number of steps from the car to your destination. Write it down and see if you can park even farther away on your next stop.

Create an obstacle, or field day course in your backyard. The kids can come up with creative stations! There are many suggestions provided in a Google search.

Plant a kitchen garden together to reap the benefits of fresh food by your own hand!

Try a Scavenger hunt – Letterboxing - Geocaching
  • Scavenger hunt - You can make it a theme or have different clues set up throughout your house, yard or neighborhood. Create riddles/clues that will direct the person to the next location. Time the event as an extra challenge! 
  • Letterboxing combines navigational skills, hiking and rubber stamp artistry in a fun "treasure hunt" style outdoor quest. Search by state/county to find a wide variety of adventures to suit all ages and experience levels.
  • Geocaching is a similar type of adventure but geared toward those who prefer to use technology for their quests.