As adults, we hear a lot about the importance of exercise. It’s no wonder, moving the body helps lower stress, risks of heart disease, and control weight. But as children enter the picture, many parents are left wondering how to squeeze in even the smallest amount of gym time. Even when parents do get to the gym, kids are usually left out of the opportunity to exercise or prefer more time in front of the screen. As a mom of five, Brandy Zwicker was all too familiar with this scene, and she was determined to change it.
“Our kids look up to us. They model our behavior,” said Brandy Zwicker. “So it’s important to be the model of healthy habits. If kids see their parents leading a sedentary lifestyle, it only sets them up for their own sedentary life, or worse, obesity.”
Brandy Zwicker continued, “Exercising as a family not only strengthens children’s muscles and lungs, but it sets them on the right path for a lifetime of healthy habits. Young children and toddlers benefit too. Exercise releases pent-up energy and leads to better concentration in the classroom.”
So how do parents ensure the health of their children, as well as their own? Brandy Zwicker says it is about being creative.
“There’s more to exercise than going to the gym or a long run,” said Brandy Zwicker. “Focus on integrating family activities that double as family time and physical movement.”
Here are 5 tips from Brandy Zwicker that do just that.
- Take a Family Stroll
“The first tip may seem obvious but it’s often overlooked,” said Brandy. “Taking a family walk before or after dinner is a great way to get those little legs moving. Make it competitive. Log steps and post a tracker on the fridge. Or use the time to catch up and bond. You want to get the heart moving for at least 30 minutes.
- Have a Dance Party
“You can’t sit out of this one. Take turns playing each family member’s favorite song and have a dance party in the living room,” said Brandy. “Young ones will love to see their parents being silly and having fun. The older siblings may even get into it too.”
“Gardening, raking leaves, playing in the snow, these are all activities where kids can use their imagination and leave the tablet or phone behind,” said Brandy Zwicker. “Have some play time before the work. Play in the leaves, build a snowman. Then make a game for the biggest pile of leaves or the fastest snow sweeper.”
- Active Games
“Tag, relay races, tug-of-war, potato sack races. These are all activities that get kids moving while they have fun doing it,” said Brandy. “There are even some video games that get kids off the couch. From dancing, tennis, and bowling, there are many options to keep active even on a rainy day.”
- Kid’s Pick
“Stuck? Ask your kids!” said Brandy Zwicker. “Just make time to hang out with them. It could be as simple as shooting hoops or jump-roping. Give your kids the time and opportunity to explore. The more they get moving, the more their imaginations will come alive.”
Want to read more health tips? Click here for Brandy Zwicker’s blog.
About Brandy Zwicker
Brandy Zwicker is a Bachelor of Science (BSN) Registered Nurse with ten years of nursing experience. Brandy has five children and enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, camping, and other outdoor fitness opportunities. She enjoys running, spin cycle, yoga, weight training, basketball, and indoor rock climbing.