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9 Fun Family Fitness Activities


The family that gets active together, stays together. Bringing the family together for a day or an afternoon of movement is both fun and offers an opportunity to stay connected even when schedules are hectic. Plus, you’ll be instilling great health and fitness values in your children. Make a commitment to unleash your inner child and spend valuable quality time with those you love by trying some of these family-friendly activities.

Zoo Adventure Walk Lions and tigers and fitness, oh my! Consider taking your family to the zoo for an educational and fun way to get your move on. Track your steps and the distance covered during your zoo adventure by wearing a pedometer or using an app on your phone. Keep the kids engaged by encouraging them to count the number of steps between animal exhibits and the number of different animals they encounter. Plus, the fun doesn’t have to stop when you leave the zoo! Back at home, take turns acting out all the different animals.

Obstacle Course Earn the title of Parent (or Grandparent) of the Week by creating an obstacle course in the backyard or at a local park. All you need is outdoor chalk, a hula hoop, ball, bucket or trash can, cones and a towel to build a fun and challenging circuit. Do each station once, then repeat the entire circuit for a total of ten times through.
  • Jumping Jacks 10
  • Hula hoop Try to keep the hoop moving for one minute.
  • Push-Ups 10-15
  • Hopscotch Set up the classic game with chalk or tape.
  • Basketball Bounce the basketball 10 times before throwing it into an empty bucket or trash can.
  • Toe Touch Hops Reach to the sky, reach down to touch your toes, then swing arms up and jump hop to the sky. Do this 10 times.
  • Cone Drills With a set of at least five rubber cones, have everyone weave in and out of the cones before running back to the first cone. Repeat this 10 times. If you don’t have cones, be creative by using water bottles or washcloths.
  • Beatle Bug Sit-Ups Start on your back and then bring knees and upper body together like a bug. Stay in this position, then repeat 15 more times.
Bike Ride Hop on two wheels and go for a family bike ride around the neighborhood or local park.

Jump Rope Grab a jump rope and spend some time in the driveway as everyone takes turns jumping. Compete to see who can jump the most consecutive times and challenge each other to try new tricks.

DIY Slip and Slide Spray a large piece of tarp with water and a little baby oil, set the hose at the top of the tarp and you’re in business. Let everyone take turns running and sliding as far as they can along the tarp. (Note: If you live in an area with water usage concerns, use a low flow of water.)

Volleyball Set up your own volleyball fun using a clothesline and ball. Choose teams and play on!

Fire Fly Run Mason jars and a setting sun are all you need for this fun nighttime activity. Hit your local park or another open space where the fireflies will be out in numbers. Run around as everyone tries to spot and catch the fireflies—just remember to let them go after you catch them.

Flashlight Tag Arm everyone with a flashlight and head to the backyard to run around as you try to ‘’tag’’ people by shining a flashlight on them.

Dance Party Gather everyone outside or in the living room for a dance party. Play each family member’s favorite songs while you all do crazy moves and express yourself through dance.

How do you get your family moving? Share you favorite family activity in the comments!

About the Author
Kim Truman is an all-around trainer and nutrition coach based in Dallas, Texas. She is well-known for her enthusiastic and motivational coaching style, as well as her high-energy workout programs. Discover more about Kim and her mission at www.kimtrumanfitness.com
Posted 6/26/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 0 comments   6,151 views
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Treat Mom to a Healthy Day


This year, let’s do Mother’s Day the healthy way. We love delicious, leisurely brunches just as much as the next person, but how did long lines and too many pancakes become the best way to honor all that mom does? Why not show mom you love her by treating her to a healthy outing, instead? No matter where you live, there are plenty of active activities that will get your blood pumping while you spend quality time with the woman who always remembered to cut the crusts off your PB&J. (Or, if you’re a mom yourself, suggest that your kids take you out for one of these fun and healthy events this Sunday.)

Kayak or Canoe If the weather cooperates, seek out the nearest body of water and rent a two-person kayak or canoe. Gliding down a river or through a lake as you admire the great outdoors will be so enjoyable you won’t even notice that you’re exercising your arm muscles and core. You’ll burn over 200 calories in under 30 minutes with this fun warm-weather activity. Plus, there’s no better place to talk about life and love and dreams than out on the quiet water.

Fitness Class Between TRX, barre, Zumba, hula hooping, SoulCycle and others, there’s probably a fitness trend that has caught your eye. Indulge your curiosity and try something new together this Mother’s Day. Grab mom, pick out a class she’s always wanted to try and head out for a morning workout. If you’re not into paying for a class, try an at-home video like this 17-Minute Barre Workout or the 20-Minute Fat Blaster, instead. After you get your sweat on, whip up a batch of smoothies to reward yourself and spend some time laughing about those crazy Zumba moves.

Bike Ride Hop on two wheels and spend an afternoon looping through your local bike trail together. Even on a leisurely ride, you’ll still burn major calories without even realizing. In just 30 minutes riding casually, you can burn almost 200 calories. Pick a scenic trail for maximum enjoyment.

Park Your local park is a great place to spend an afternoon and is especially fun with the family. Challenge your family to a basketball game or see who can swing the highest. You’re all sure to feel like kids again as you work your way across the monkey bars. Make a whole day of it by packing a healthy picnic!

Hike Break out your hiking shoes and water bottle and hit a trail in the woods together. Hike up hills and over uneven terrain to challenge yourself, or find an easy trail where you can work to spot wildlife or identify birds. Thirty minutes on the trail with hills will burn up to 170 calories. Pack some homemade, no-bake protein bars for a mid-hike break to enjoy your surroundings and your company, of course.

Golf Skip the golf cart and carry your own clubs for an extra challenge at the golf course. Walking from hole to hole is a great workout for your legs, and you’ll have plenty of time to catch up on life events as you stroll together. If your long game is a little rusty, head to the driving range for an afternoon in the sun competing to see who can make the ball fly farthest. After exerting so much energy, you’ll enjoy that lunch at the club even more.

Run Many cities host Mother’s Day races, so check your local events guide to see if you can sign up together. If you’re not in prime racing form, why not make Mother’s Day the first day of training? Pick from one of the many exciting or wacky 5Ks out there and draw up a training schedule. Not only will you be building up your endurance and fitness levels, but at the end you get to share another special day with one another. Don’t know where to start? Try one of these flexible 5K training plans.

Garden Sounds leisurely, but any real gardener will tell you that working in the yard can be a full-body workout. Between squatting, raking and digging, a typical day of gardening will challenge all your muscle groups. Plus, the end result will yield beautiful plants and vegetables that mom can enjoy all year round. Get some ideas for gardening in the city, easy vegetables to plant and more in our Gardening Guide.
Posted 5/5/2015  12:00:00 AM By: Alicia Capetillo : 5 comments   9,221 views
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10 Fit Gift Ideas for Father's Day


Father's Day is quickly approaching, so you might be thinking about ways to recognize the special dad in your life.  Fitness-related gifts can be a unique option to the traditional tie or coffee mug.  Whether you have $1 or $100 (or more) to spend this year, consider getting dad something that he can enjoy while benefitting his health at the same time!
Posted 6/2/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 3 comments   24,615 views
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Stop Apologizing for Being Different


Every day I work hard to be a good mom.  There are days where I’m proud of the job I’ve done, and other days when I’m not.   I think that kind of goes with the territory.  I know I’m not perfect, but I always try to make decisions based on what I think is right for my family.  Some of those decisions aren’t the norm, but instead of being proud of paving my own path, recently I’ve started apologizing for them.  It’s time for me to stop being sorry and start embracing my differences.
 
My daughter started kindergarten last month, which means I’ve been getting involved at school, going to meetings and introducing myself to other parents in her class.  A few weeks ago, I went to a meeting where moms were chatting about popular meals they serve for dinner.  Most of the foods they were mentioning were things my kids never eat, because admittedly, I’m pretty picky about what we have.  Most of our meals don’t come from a box or fast food drive through, and I try to serve healthy foods as much as possible (leaving room for special treats now and then.)  I stayed quiet through the conversation, because I didn’t want to come off as judging other parents.  Every parent has their own things they focus on, and one of mine happens to be the quality of our food.  When I came to pick my daughter up from a playdate a few days after this, her friend’s mom asked “What does she eat for lunch?” She named a few foods she asked if my daughter would like to eat, and my daughter had never had them before.   Yes, hotdogs are on that list.    
 
After these two experiences (as well as a few others involving the toys my children have compared to other kids), I felt the need to apologize to them.  “I’m sorry that I’m different than other parents.  I’m sorry I focus a lot on what you eat, and don’t just buy you everything you want the second you ask for it.”  When my husband heard me doing this, he pulled me aside.  “Why would you apologize for doing things for our kids that you feel are going to make them better, healthier people?  Don’t be sorry for that.”  The more I thought about it, the more I knew he was right.  My kids eat plenty of treats, just not all-day, every day.  My kids get new toys and we do lots of fun things together, even if I’m not buying the latest, most expensive gadgets on the market.  I do these things because I think they are right for my family, which is why everyone makes the choices they do.  I just need to get more comfortable in my own skin and not be so self-conscious about it.
 
The path towards a healthier lifestyle isn’t always the popular choice.  Sometimes you have to turn down seconds at the dinner table, or decide against the rich dessert that everyone else is devouring.  Have you ever felt the need to apologize for that, as if you’re doing something wrong?  Do you apologize to family or friends for making time to work out instead of things others might like you to do?  I think there’s a difference between being selfish, and just saying you’re sorry for making different choices.  In the end, we all have one life to live.  The way you make yours great isn’t going to be the same as everyone else, but that’s okay.  That’s what makes each of us unique.
 
What do you think?  
  
Posted 10/23/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 70 comments   14,086 views
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Get Kids to Eat Veggies by Offering More Veggies


My young kids like to be in control.  Whether it’s what they are wearing, which toy they play with or what’s for lunch, they like to make decisions.  Although it can get frustrating at times (“I’m sorry honey, we aren’t going to wear winter boots today because it’s 97 degrees outside.”) I can understand.  So much of their lives are planned out for them that it’s exciting when they get to make a few choices on their own. 
 
I’ve started involving my children more in the meal planning process.  I don’t mind cooking dinner but I hate having to come up with ideas all the time.  So I’ll ask them for suggestions, or give them choices to pick from, either in the planning stage or once I make the food.  It doesn’t bother me to make a few different vegetables and then let them choose which ones they want.  I know the food will get eaten eventually, and I like having leftovers for future meals.  I find that when given the choice, they don’t usually pick just the carrots or just the green beans.  They usually want a little of both, and end up eating more vegetables than they would have if there was just one.  A new study of adults came to the same conclusion:  variety helps increase intake.
Posted 10/2/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 13 comments   13,900 views
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The Problem of Childhood Obesity: How You Can Be Part of the Solution


The topic of childhood obesity is interesting to me, both personally and professionally.  My job is to help people create a healthier lifestyle, and I’m also the mother of three small children.  But I’ll be honest, when I see stories on the news about the latest obesity statistics, it’s easy to start tuning out all of the depressing facts and figures.  Mainstream media talks a lot about the problem (that’s become an epidemic), but not as much about the solution.  What can we start doing today, right now, in our own homes and communities to help turn this around?  What can we do to make sure the next generation isn’t the first one to have a shorter lifespan than their mothers and fathers?
Posted 9/18/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 14 comments   9,847 views
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Maybe Your Way Isn't Always the Best Way


I often joke about the negative things motherhood has brought to my life- lack of sleep, no free time, an acceleration of the aging process, etc.  The truth is, motherhood has brought an innumerable amount of positive things to my life.  In addition to the great things about my kids, becoming a mom has developed a more compassionate and non-judgmental side to my personality that I might not have had otherwise.  Instead of being annoyed or just walking past the mom with the screaming baby in the grocery store, I’m much more likely to ask if there’s anything I can do to help.  When I see someone with a different parenting style than mine, I try hard to understand and be respectful of the fact that we aren’t all the same, instead of automatically assuming what they are doing is wrong. 
Posted 7/24/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 65 comments   13,774 views
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Does 'Disney-Approved' Mean It's a Healthy Food?


Disney began focusing on providing healthier kids' meals at their Parks and Resorts beginning back in 2006. Now kids' meals routinely include low-fat milk and carrots unless parents opt out. Disney internal statistics reveal that parents will stick with these healthier side options six out of ten times instead of requesting substitutions. With more than 12 million kids' meals served annually in Disney Parks and Resorts in the U.S. alone, the changes are making a difference in how children are eating. In September of 2010, The Walt Disney Company launched Disney Magic of Healthy Living, a national multimedia initiative to help families raise healthy, happy kids.
 
Last month the Walt Disney Company took another step forward in their brand commitment to healthy eating by introducing new food advertising standards. Under Disney's new standards, after 2015 all food and beverage products seeking advertisement, sponsorship, or promotion on any Disney-owned television channels (including Saturday morning programming on Disney owned ABC), radio stations, or Web sites will need to comply with the company's new nutrition criteria for programming targeting children under the age of 12.

 
By the end of 2012, consumers will also begin seeing the new Mickey Check symbol on Disney-licensed food products. Disney anticipates this tool will help consumers easily identify nutritious choices in stores, online and while visiting Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Disney also updated their nutrition guidelines to reflect current federal standards and recommendations. The new criteria include not only specifics related to calories but also to reducing saturated fat, sodium, and sugar.

Let's take a closer look at the details of the Disney Nutrition Guideline Criteria to see how they stack up nutritionally.
Posted 7/16/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 17 comments   9,136 views
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Getting Your Kids Excited About Healthy Foods


When I was little, I had no concept of where my food came from.  I just knew that my mom went to the store and came back with lots of things for my family to eat.  I never thought about the journey my food went through to make it into the store and eventually onto my plate. 
 
Over the past few years I got interested in starting a garden.  I like the idea of growing my own food, and I also like my kids being involved in the process of planting, taking care of, and eventually eating the fruits and vegetables from our own backyard.  I think that gives them a much greater appreciation for what food goes through to make it to our table.  Last year we started small with two container gardens.  This year we are expanding to a small raised bed in the backyard (and who knows where we might go from there!)  I let the kids help decide what we are going to plant and they help with watering, weeding, and picking the produce when it’s ripe.  They get so excited about the food we grow, and would much rather eat it than just about anything else.  It’s a great way to teach them something and develop healthy habits at the same time.
 
Studies show that children are more likely to eat the foods they grow, choose at the grocery store, and/or prepare. These activities often expand the variety of foods they enjoy and can mean a wider range of nutrients consumed. It is also a good tactic for children who are picky eaters.”
 
My kids love helping me cook.  That’s one area where I’m trying to develop more patience.  I spend a fair amount of time cooking, but I like to do everything myself so that it gets done as quickly as possible.  When the kids help, it slows down the process and speeds up the mess, but it’s worth it.  My kids are more likely to eat something they helped make because they feel pride in it, and also because they are sure of exactly what’s in it.   (“Mom can’t sneak in some mushrooms or zucchini if she knows I’m watching!”)
 
Whether your children learn about about food through gardening, meal preparation or just talking about healthy eating, parents are the best teachers and examples.  Establishing healthy habits early will help your kids develop habits to last a lifetime.  Check out Tips, Tricks and Treats to Teach Kids to Cook and A Parent’s Guide to Nutrition for Kids for more ideas. 
 
Do you agree that healthy eating habits begin at home?  How do you teach the young people in your life to develop an appreciation for healthy food?   
 
Posted 7/10/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 11 comments   11,006 views
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Quick & Healthy Family Breakfast Ideas


If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it 937 times: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day—for you, and for your kids. You just spent eight hours with no food or water. You’re dehydrated, your blood sugar is low and you have little energy. And now it’s time to hurry the kids off to school before the eight-hour workday. More so than any other point in the day, you all need nourishment. Breakfast eaters typically cruise until lunch, while beaming with energy.

Scratch those unhealthy breakfasts. Here are some healthy and quick ideas for the whole family:
Posted 6/24/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 21 comments   24,862 views
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10 of the Best Cereals You Should Be Eating


You have heard it said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. While some people question this recommendation, others have quick and healthy breakfast favorites they regularly include at the beginning of their day. Many of us enjoy a warm bowl of oatmeal during cold winter months and have created healthy recipes to tickle our taste buds. As the weather changes, some of us seek out cooler healthy breakfast alternatives like fruit smoothies, yogurt or cold cereal.
 
With all the food-labeling loopholes, selecting a healthy cereal can be tricky. Ignore the catchy claims on the front of the box and go straight to the nutrition facts label instead. Here's what to look for:
  • Remember the "Rule of Fives": Choose cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving, and less than 5 grams of sugar.
  • Look for each serving to contain at least 3 grams of protein.
  • Read the ingredients list. The top ingredients should be "whole wheat," or "wheat bran"—not just "wheat." These whole grains are naturally low in fat, and high in fiber.
  • Avoid cereals that list hydrogenated oils, artificial dyes or colors, and chemical preservatives as ingredients—these have no place in a healthy diet!
Here are 10 of the best cold cereals to keep on your pantry shelf.
Posted 5/21/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 150 comments   721,555 views
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A Fun Family Fitness Exercise


Have you thought about how great it would be to include your family in your pursuit to exercise more regularly? Family exercise will improve the health of your loved ones, make exercise more fun, and at the same time develop stronger connections between all of you. With a little creativity, you can find a way to make it work for everyone.
Posted 5/20/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 12 comments   17,931 views
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Changing My Corner of the World, One Sidewalk at a Time


One of my biggest pet peeves has always been people who complain about things, but never do anything to change them.  For example, it’s hard for me to bite my tongue when friends complain about our political system, but never take the time to go out and vote.   If you’re unhappy about something, I think you should speak up and do something to make it better instead of always just grumbling about how it’s not right.  That’s why I’ve decided to do something that makes me slightly uncomfortable, but is important to me and my family.
Posted 5/15/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 112 comments   16,542 views
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How to Keep Up with the Kiddos--and Burn Off All That Energy


The news is full of reports about childhood obesity and sedentary children with their bottoms glued to couch cushions and their eyes trained on electronic screens.
 
But for me right now, with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, the reality is more like children bouncing off the walls and forcing me to get off my bottom to run around the yard with them. Young children are full of energy and can't help but want to master their new motor skills. The trick is harnessing and keeping that joy for movement and exercise.
 
Here's what we're hoping works:
Posted 4/24/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 11 comments   14,355 views
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Raising Strong Daughters


Grade school was tough for me.  I got picked on a lot, mostly because I got good grades and didn’t like to get in trouble.   I think a lot of my insecurities as an adult began on the school playground as a 9-year-old who just wanted to fit in.  Because of those experiences, I’ve become super-sensitive to how I’m raising my daughters.  I want them to be strong young women who don’t let the opinions of others determine their self-worth.  I know some of that is inevitable (I see it already in preschool when my daughter gets her feelings hurt because a girl in her class doesn’t want to play with her), but hopefully they will be able to avoid at least some of the negativity that I experienced so long ago.
Posted 4/20/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 38 comments   16,231 views
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