Facts for Families

Facts for Families

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Staying Active with the Whole Family

By Cheri Burcham, Family Life Educator

University of Illinois Extension family life intern Brittany Albrecht wrote this great article for the Family Files Blog that I would like to share:

As New Year's Resolutions start to fade, we hear more and more excuses for why we are not able to complete our goals. "There's not enough time in the day!" "It's too cold outside!" "It's not fun!" "I'm too old!" These are some of the common reasons that people give for not staying physically active. However, regular physical activity has been reported as the single best thing you can do for your health! It is incredibly important for multiple reasons to stay active and maintain balance during all times of the year. In this article, we will discuss some tips on how to utilize positive peer pressure to stay active with the whole family.

"There's not enough time in the day!" Studies show that it only takes thirty minutes of physical activity a day to see positive effects. This means that we do have enough time in the day – we only need to schedule a half hour to get moving! Physical activity has incredible benefits, such as reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. In addition, regular physical activity can help you control your weight and strengthen your bones and muscles. For older adults, physical activity could be helpful in preventing falls and improving your ability to do everyday activities.

"It's too cold outside!" Too cold outside? Commercial-cize! Many families watch television at night. During commercial breaks, try engaging in exercises like push-ups, crunches, jumping jacks or high-knees. This is a fantastic way to get everyone moving together during a normally sedentary activity. Families could also utilize technology and try out electronic fitness programs. These electronic games offer options like dancing, boxing, and bowling that can help you stay active inside during the cold months. Even something as mundane as an in-home maintenance project could be a great way to get everyone active.

"It's not fun!" Physical activity CAN be fun! It can be a great way to spend time as a family. Utilize this time together to bond and instill values of health consciousness. There are several ways that you can get the whole family involved. Make it a habit, such as scheduling family play-time after dinner or on the weekends. Get outside and try hiking, frisbee, flag football or playing tag together! Even just walking with the dog around the neighborhood can be beneficial. You can use this time to talk about highlights of the day and stay updated on each other's lives.

"I'm too old!" The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says "the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks of getting hurt." No one is too old to exercise, however, please be sure to consult with a health professional if you are unsure about what type or amount of physical activity is appropriate for you. Physical activity can be a great bonding activity across generations. Get grandma and grandpa involved, too! Strengthening activities such as lifting weights or yoga can be extremely advantageous for preventing bone loss and muscle tone.

Overall, there are countless benefits associated with regular exercise and great arguments against the common excuses for inactivity. Get creative and find fun ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily schedule. Think outside of the box when it comes to engaging family members and utilizing indoor space during the cold months. When weather permits, start a new ritual and head outdoors for family play-time. The positive impacts of regular physical activity on your health and family dynamics will be apparent and lasting!

For more information on this topic or other family life-related topics, contact Cheri Burcham at University of Illinois Extension at 217-543-3755 or at cburcham@illinois.edu For more information on University of Illinois Unit 19 programming and to read more helpful articles, visit our website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/index.html or call us at (217)345-7034. Also visit the Family Files Blog at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/hkmw/eb380/

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