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Just Ask Children's


How Busy Families Can Make Time for Physical Activity

Julie Wilson, M.D., pediatric sports medicine physician in the Orthopedics Institute at Children’s Colorado, offers up these ideas to help busy families be more physically active.

Two boys run a race in a backyard while two other kids cheer.

Exercise truly is the best medicine for so many things – it helps improve sleep, stress, mood, and concentration, and is a part of how we treat and prevent many medical problems. We often think that in order to gain benefits from exercise, we have to do a long or intense workout, but research has shown that even short bouts of exercise/physical activity are beneficial, so find small windows of time to add activity into your day.

Fit physical activity in to your daily routine

Physical activity doesn’t always have to be high intensity – we can give ourselves a lot of health benefits by walking briskly and taking the stairs. The more you get kids to move, the more likely you are to create a habit and be active regularly.

Homework

  • Take five minute breaks during homework time to move around, or have your child try standing while doing homework.
  • If the answer to the math question is 10, your child can do 10 reps of their favorite exercise.

Grocery shopping

  • Park at the far end of the parking lot at the grocery store.
  • Take extra trips through the aisles. 

Going to school

  • Walk or bike to school with your kids.
  • Park several blocks away from school and walk them in or let them walk alone if they are old enough. 

Make exercise a focus of family time

Now that the days are longer and the weather is warmer, think about how you can incorporate regular physical activity into your daily life as a family.

  • Turn off the TV and kick a soccer ball around the yard for 30 minutes.
  • Set up an obstacle course in your yard or neighborhood park.
  • If you do watch TV, do jumping jacks, push up or sit-ups during commercial breaks.

Set achievable goals

It’s important to set yourself up for success when you incorporate a new habit or lifestyle change. Create short-term and long-term goals that are easily defined and realistic.

  • Hold everyone accountable with a family goal, like running a 5K.
  • A short term goal should help you meet your long term goal, so start by committing to walk one mile as a family three times a week – and stick with it.
  • When you reach your family goal, consider a reward that encourages a commitment to physical activity like getting new running shoes or fitness trackers.

Check out more sports articles for parents.

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