Easy ways to incorporate physical activity into your day

Exercise doesn’t have to be performed at a gym or in a class. Try these activities as a family.

There are many ways for families to incorporate extra physical activity. Michigan State University Extension gives ideas to do this as a family for not only physical health, but bonding as well.

Going out with the family? Park far away from a building when in the parking lot. Use the stairs whenever possible. Take the kids to window shop (leave your wallet in the car!) at the mall. This will also teach kids to get a handle on instant gratification and that you can look without always buying.

Encourage kids to walk whenever possible. Most cities seem to be adding trails. Use trails that are combined with nature, the whole family will enjoy this, including the family dog. If you do not have a dog, offer to borrow a neighbors or friends, they will appreciate this. With warm weather coming up, have a healthy snack or lunch to eat while out walking – stop at a park to enjoy. Try to add one extra block than you are used to walking every few times you go out.

Get the family involved in exercise by dancing to upbeat music. At home you can crank up the music and really let loose, the kids will enjoy this. Borrow from your local library a low-key (to start with) exercise tape with good moving music. When adults start participating, the kids will want to join. When you are finished with the workout offer a healthy snack and drink.

Remind children that any housework is also exercise. When we sweep, mop, vacuum or do dishes, this is all considered exercise. Bending over to do laundry or picking up toys is great movement. When the family finishes their chores, celebrate by doing something fun. When performing outside work you are engaging the large muscles in your body. Examples include shoveling, raking or mowing the grass.

Experts say adults should be performing 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day. Don’t get overwhelmed, exercise can be performed in 10 minute sessions. A good way to gauge how intense your routine is, you should always be able to talk while you are exercising, otherwise you may be pushing it too hard. Regular exercise can reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

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