Finding a routine that works for your family may not be easy, but once you find what works, you’ll keep going

Experts say it’s important that kids get in the habit of exercising. Research indicates that parents’ activity level and encouragement play vital roles in determining how physically active their kids are.

Want to foster your own culture of family fitness? Here are eight tips to help (PS. having a gym at home isn’t required):

1. Just get moving

It is so hard to get started – especially when you have kids. Something as simple as getting off the couch and going outside together as a family is a great way to get the ball rolling, says Andrew Shniderman, personal trainer.

“Go for a 10-minute walk together,” he says. “Spend some time doing something where you are moving.”

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2. Be enthusiastic – and sincere – about exercise

If you don’t enjoy weightlifting, don’t expect your clan to suddenly be thrilled about pumping iron. “Kids can sense when you’re faking it,” Shniderman warns.

“Find something that you yourself want to do.” If you bring true excitement to an activity, the whole family will pick up on that. In the same vein, Shniderman says, try to keep your entire workout engaging and high energy, whether it lasts 15 minutes or an hour.

3. Make a plan and stick with it

Planning is everything. Every Sunday, gather the family and map out your schedule for the week. Plan meals and when you’re going to work out.

Consistency and commitment are important, too. Don’t use anything that pops up in your day as an excuse to not work out. Finding a routine that works for your family may not be easy, but once you find what works, you’ll keep going.

Something as simple as getting off the couch and going outside together as a family is a great way to get the ball rolling

4. Consider an app or a fitness tracker

Recent research shows families that use fitness trackers that incorporate elements such as points or levels – otherwise known as “gamification” – are more likely to achieve their fitness goals than those who do not.

In a 2017 study, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Boston University followed adults from 94 families who engaged in a game to track their steps for 12 weeks, with a 12-week follow-up. The study’s big takeaway: adding a social game component to their exercise technology “significantly increased physical activity among families”. Digital exercise tracking comes with the bonus of being able to easily see the stats on your progress, too, which helps you celebrate the achievements.

5. Find a family-friendly gym

Gyms can provide an array of opportunities for families to work out together, according to Robin Hedrick, director of community health for the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, which offer an extensive line-up of group exercise classes for families, including yoga, boot camps and dance classes.

“It doesn’t matter what you choose to do,” Hedrick says. “It is important for children to see their parents exercising or ‘playing’ with them.”

Shop around to find the right gym, Dawn advises, and visit at the same times you’ll be working out, so you get a good sense of the atmosphere.

6. Try an event that isn’t timed

Signing up for an un-timed family event can help take the pressure off performance and keep the focus on a shared activity.

7. Don’t push your kids too hard

When your kids give you ‘the look’, it’s time to switch it up, Shniderman says. “A child is not like an adult. Adults know their limits and they need somebody to break their limits,” he says. “Kids are completely different.” Keep it from becoming a negative experience.

8. Be creative with your workouts

A little bit of imagination can go a long way. Shniderman points to a bear crawl as an example: “It’s not a bear crawl anymore,” he says. “It’s a ‘magic spider walk’. I say, ‘You’re not on the floor, you’re on a web. The only thing that can stick to this web are your magic hands and magic feet’. Now the kids are more bought in. They don’t want to get stuck on the spider web. Same goal, just a different way to execute it.”

Shniderman says that he spends hours thinking up creative games involving exercise. “I never say, ‘Here’s my book of workouts and games, I’m done!'” he says. “The way kids interact with workouts changes from week to week and from year to year.” Just keeping exercise fun and fresh, whether it’s new games, different workout moves or changing goals, will go a long way toward establishing a family that works out together – and enjoys it.

Article by Morgan Voigt, first published on ‘Washington Post’.

Author: ANA Newswire