During the first few weeks of spring, everyone’s itching to beat their cabin fever by spending some time outdoors in warm, sunny weather. Suddenly, it’s not so hard to get the family outside for an evening walk. But when the hot, humid weather of summer rolls around, it’s not as easy to keep yourself or your family motivated to stay active.
Although it may not be easy, it’s important, says Bernard King, DO, a family medicine physician at Main Line HealthCare Family Medicine in Glen Mills.
“The earlier you instill the importance of an active lifestyle in your children, the more likely they are to continue to remain active and practice healthy habits throughout their life,” explains Dr. King. “Poor exercise habits in childhood can lead to health problems down the road, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.”
Of course, encouraging the family to exercise is difficult, especially when you’re competing with temptations like tablets, cell phones and television screens. With this in mind, Dr. King recommends a few tactics you can try this summer to keep your family healthy.
Take a day trip
One of the best parts about summer? Vacations, of course! Chances are, your neighborhood bike routes and backyard aren’t going to be enough to entice your family to get outside. Instead, plan a day trip or weekend getaway to a hiking trail or state park you haven’t visited before. Go camping, go on a scavenger hunt for local wildlife or nature, or pack a picnic lunch to enjoy. By making the trip less about fitness and more about a getaway, you’ll sneak in more active moments without anyone noticing.
Find a workout online
Instead of fighting all those electronic devices for some attention, use them to your advantage. Thanks to the availability of online workout videos, you don’t have to hit the gym or even leave the house to get some exercise. Look for workouts online, download workout apps to your tablet or smartphone, or take advantage of fitness-based interactive video games.
Join a team
Some children may be more excited to exercise or participate in sports when they know their friends are, too. Research summer activity leagues in your area and talk to your son or daughter about whether or not they’re interested in participating. For a family-friendly group fitness option, join the local pool or YMCA, most of which offer classes for everyone in the family.
Offer plenty of options
Your husband might love an early-morning jog, while your son prefers kicking the ball around with friends and your daughter likes gymnastics. Rather than having the whole family take part in the same exercise, talk to everyone to find out what activity they like the most and carve some time out for it. Just like any activity, you’re more likely to exercise if you enjoy what you’re doing.