exercise tips for families

As Americans, we spend a lot of money and time on getting our children into elite sports teams, creating new hiking trails, and building expensive recreational centers at schools. So if we have the access to exercise, why are we facing an obesity crisis? The answer is simple: Our  lives are so busy that we don’t have time to work exercise into our daily routines.

Let’s take a look at a typical American family:

Justin is a nine-year-old boy with a BMI over the 95th percentile. Everyday after school he goes to an after-school day care where he plays indoors with other kids until his mother picks him and his brother up, after stopping at the daycare his sister attends. When they arrive home, his mother prepares dinner while Justin and his brother do their homework. He has no friends around the neighborhood, since most of the kids are younger than he is. His parents don’t feel comfortable allowing him to play outside by himself because of safety concerns. After dinner he plays video games and watches TV before going to bed. He must get to bed early, since he has to get up early enough for parents to take his sister to day care before school starts. On Saturdays they usually visit grandparents outside of town and go shopping or run errands around town. By Sunday, the parents are tired and spend the day doing laundry, resting, and getting ready for the week.

What’s Missing?

There is one thing missing in this scenario: exercise. However, adding exercise into the routine doesn’t have to be complicated. Even though this family has been doing everything right as far as eating habits are concerned, they need to make time to exercise in order to keep the family healthy. If this family started preparing meals on Sunday, they could cut down on meal preparation. Then, Justin’s mother could take the kids to the park around 5:30 p.m. and let them play outside for an hour. Then they could go home, leaving the car at the park and walk back after dinner. This exercise routine takes less than two hours and fits easily into their busy schedule.

Get more ideas for family-fun physical activities:

In my book, The Step Up Diet, I provide a step-by-step plan to help families experience what it is like to eat the right way, the Step Up Diet teaches the body and the brain to recognize what types of food are healthy to eat, and to establish a healthy eating schedule. By focusing on one step—one segment of the day—at a time, the ultimate goal becomes less overwhelming and more manageable, helping us stay on target with our goals of eating healthier in 2013.

About the Author

Dr. Katalenas

Dr. Katalenas is a pediatrician and owner of The Pediatric Center of Round Rock and the author of the book "The Step Up Diet: From Scratch… The Quality, Quantity, and Timing Solution to Childhood Obesity", a guide to healthy cooking and eating for busy families.