Living Well

How to make family fitness a priority

Christina Maise, Mastered Exercise Specialist
How to make family fitness a priority

Let’s get real. That summer heat has been brutal. Odds are, you and your family haven’t spent much time outside getting exercise these last few months. The fall weather will be here before you know it though, so all the more reason to embrace the cooler weather, get outside, and get active!

It’s important to keep your family active in order to help you and your kiddos maintain healthier weights and stronger muscles and bones. Staying physically fit also helps prevent life threatening health conditions like heart disease, cancer, and stroke. It can also lessen feelings of depression, and boost confidence, which is very important in this day and age of peer pressure and cyber bullying.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, kids ages 6 to 17 should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, and adults should get at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week. The best way to meet these goals is to work on them as a family. Here are some great tips on how to incorporate family fitness into your routine.

RELATED: Remaining active after summer

Talk with the pediatrician. If your children have constant health concerns or injuries, their healthcare provider can help you determine which activities are most appropriate considering any limitations they may have.

Write down an activity goal. Start with something small that you and your family can reach together. Be specific. For example, decide to do 30 minutes of activity 4 days a week, for 4 weeks.

Create a family activity calendar. Plug in activities for each week, like going on a family hike, walking the dog, or playing sports. Post it in a spot where everyone in the family can see it.



Make a menu of fun choices. A list of activity ideas can get the ball rolling. Think of activities that work best for the age of your children. See the list below for some choices.

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Kickball
  • Jog In Place
  • High Knee

Let your children help pick activities. If you keep your children involved with choosing activities, it will create excitement about staying active.

Track your progress. Put fun stickers or notes on the calendar to celebrate milestones and other achievements.

Limit TV and computer time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours of “screen time” per day.

Reschedule, don’t cancel. If something comes up and you have to miss activity time, plug the activity into a new time slot.

Set challenges. Create small contests for your family members. Who can climb the most stairs in a week? Who can be the first to walk the dog 3 times? Offer small rewards like special stickers on the calendar, or colorful certificates.

Make it social. Invite neighbors or your children’s friends to join your activities. You can invite them into your challenges, too.



Be positive and encouraging. Physical activity is easier for some kids, and harder for others. Overweight children may feel self-conscious. Let your children go at their own pace, and offer support and encouragement. Promote a positive attitude. Positive experiences with activity will make it easier to keep your children involved and interested.

Be a role model. Your positive attitude about physical fitness will help your children see it as an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Remember, a child with healthy habits is more likely to grow into an adult with healthy habits. When physical activities are a family priority, they can help give children a great foundation for a healthy life. The West Jefferson Fitness Center has a wide variety of fitness, nutrition, and wellness programs for kids ages ages 7 to 14.

About Christina:

Christina is the Wellness Manger at West Jefferson Fitness Centers, where she has been employed for the last 15 years.

She has a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and a Masters of Education in Health. In her free time she enjoys distance running and all things health and fitness.

To find out about West Jefferson Fitness Center memberships, or to schedule a tour, call 504.349.6164.