Living Well – Keeping kids active keeps families close

Vicky Trill's monthly column on staying healthy through activity and nutrition.

Snow is no deterrent for Trill and her daughter

Snow is no deterrent for Trill and her daughter

Since the last time you read my Living Well column, have you made any changes in living an active life? Have you put some intentional thought into how much “screen time” you and your family get each day? I challenged you to switch a half hour of screen time for some “move” time. Did you accomplish this? Over the past months, I’ve asked families what they do to be active and how they encourage their children to be active. I’ve heard some really great ideas and want to share some with you. Maybe you can join these active families in helping your children to move and be healthy.

There are two main ways I heard that parents guide their children to move and be healthy but both include fun. The first way is individual. It is not always possible for the whole family to move together, so in order to get moving everyday, some of the movement will be individual. For instance, there are clubs and sport programs that children can join in order to get some of their movement time in. Locally, we have some great options, such as soccer, karate, hockey and a wide array of school sports. If your child isn’t interested in the club or team idea, providing him/her with an appropriate mini “workout” could be healthy and fun too. I talked to a doctor who told me she would leave a list of exercise challenges for her kids that they could accomplish each day before she returned home from work. The exercise challenges were age appropriate, fun and accomplishing them each day reaped a reward. The list may include:

* Run two times around the house without stopping;

* Do 20 bum drops in a row on the trampoline; and/or

* Walk on your hands and feet from the kitchen to your bedroom and back.

If all of these were accomplished each day, then on the weekend, there was a reward that didn’t cost money and didn’t include food. So reward night may be, a night on the trampoline under the stars as a family or a hike and picnic to a “secret” waterfall. The Doctor Mom tells me, that her grown children still talk about those great times they had on the reward nights!

Another way to guide your children to move and be healthy is to do it as a family. This is not only great for the health of you and your children, but this is a real relationship builder as well. Go swimming, skating or a hike together, kick around the soccer ball at the park or recruit some friends and play a game in the park. These activities are fun for all and build family.

You can step it up a notch too and train together for a run or other competition. There are special events in our area such as the Lions’ Skip’s Run in the Spring and the Terry Fox run in the Fall where individuals (and families) can practice and train for short or longer runs or walks.

Doing fun things together and accomplishing a challenge as a team (family) is not only physically healthy, but it also brings you together and creates a stronger relationship bond.

When it’s Winter, the cold dark days often lure us to stay inside, but instead of huddling on the couch, let’s bundle up, go outside and try out the sled on the hill, or make some tracks through the snow and play tag, or just go for a walk and maybe find some scavenger hunt treasures along the way. Have fun and move!

Vicky Trill