Family Fitness

Some of you have been thinking for some time about persuading your family to exercise together. First of all you need to sit down and talk about the different things you all like to do. Give everyone a turn to come up with a week's worth of activities. Many studies have shown that if you exercise for 30 consecutive days it becomes a habit. So once you all get past the first month it will become routine and part of your lifestyle. Remember to keep it fun and give everyone a chance to participate in different things to do. Everyone wants to have a say. No one likes to be told over and over what to do!

One of the most favorite exercises is dancing. Everyone is able to select their favorite music and you'll all have a chance to dance to it. It's also fun for the younger generation to watch older ones dance.

Another favorite exercise is swimming. If you have a YMCA, community center, or if your school is lucky enough to have a pool ask if you can use it for practicing. You can also use your creativity in the pool with different types of swimming, races, or water ballet. Another option if you have the pool to yourself is to arrange `his and hers` swimming competitions.

One great game the whole family can play is Twister, plus it has the added advantage of stretching all your muscles. Make sure you play enough games to warm up those muscles (4-8 games). Since weather is one of the main reasons why many families around the country do not go out for walks, it's worth going to the Mall. Walk at a good brisk pace for at least 20-30 minutes, or less if you feel you're becoming short of breath. When you are there you can reward yourself with some window shopping. If the Mall is not to your taste, pick another indoor facility where you can do some brisk walking.

Many people keep track of their steps with pedometers. They are inexpensive and people love to know how many steps they've taken in a day. Get one for everyone in your family and see who walks the most steps in a week. Whoever wins will be allowed to decide on the menu for a week and does not have to do any cleaning or other chores. Or you could have prizes to give away if you prefer.

Those of you who enjoy weight training and circuit training could try something like circuit training in your home. You could start with stretching; and then move to running up and down the stairs, following with some floor exercises, such as sit ups, side bends and push ups. If you have some type of equipment, like a treadmill, bicycle, Gazelle or something along these lines you could also include that in the circuit. Do each activity for a couple of minutes or one repetition and then move to the next "station". Think about placing each activity in a different room and walk briskly or jog to each "station".

All these activities, shared by the family, can be great fun and can often lead to even more activities. The benefits, a healthy and happy family, are there for all to see.