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Five Fun Ways to Keep Your Family Fit

By:  Eve White and Stewart Day May 14, 2013

Parenthood is a rewarding experience, but it takes a lot of work to raise a healthy, well-adjusted family. Advancements in technology help us keep up with a fast-paced environment, but like most things, they have their drawbacks too. Relying on technology gives us an excuse to not complete tasks hands-on and we often find ourselves letting our kids do the same. We could all use some encouragement to refocus on what’s important. 

Charlotte Parent and Nashville Parent began The Fit Family Challenge as a lifestyle program to encourage metro-area families in both cities to get moving and live healthier by tracking their physical activity minutes.  Coca-Cola has partnered with the program to challenge consumers to track their lifestyle habits and raise awareness of the importance of physical activity. With Mayor Foxx and Mayor Dean each leading their citizens in this city-wide challenge, the mayors are able to emphasize the importance of a balanced lifestyle and encourage active, healthy habits throughout their cities.  As families get out and play as a family, we are able to help make it everyone’s job to be healthier and lead a more balanced, active lifestyle.  

As we've watched the logged activities and habits come in throughout the program, we discovered some great ideas that many of us can incorporate into our lives. Below are five of our favorites:

1. Walk the Dog

This simple activity not only helps get you outside and moving, but it's also a much needed activity for your pet.  It's a great way to get the kids out for some quality family time too. Try talking about the school day while you do a lap around the neighborhood. If the kids aren't available, grab your spouse, and catch-up on some much needed alone time. Either way you're burning calories while completing a family chore. Who knows, it may even turn into a family game of fetch with your pup!

2. Laugh Out Loud

Alright, this one seems a little too good to be true, but laughter does burn calories. It's also good for the soul and studies show it helps you live longer. Encouraging laughter around your dinner table, while tucking the kids in at night or during your carpool to soccer practice makes life more fun and keeps you focused on the positive in your life.

3. Opt for Active Video Games 

Most gaming systems now offer motion activated-activities. The games range from sports, to dance, to being the in-game action hero. It's a video game – which means your kids will probably think it's cool – plus it is getting them moving rather than just sitting in front of the screen. This is a great substitute for traditional family game night or a rainy day. And it might just spark some fun, family-friendly competition.

4. Plan Outside Time 

Kids tend to get outside and burn calories more than adults. You plan your life around making sure their needs are met. This often leaves you literally sitting in the driver's seat, waiting in the school pick-up line or outside of karate practice. So, make sure you plan time outside for yourself too. If you plan to get outdoors, you're more likely to do something that gets you moving. One of our favorites is family bike rides. Many areas offer beautiful bike paths or parks that give you a safe space to teach your kids how to ride and get you out pedaling as well.

5. Cook Together

This activity is so simple, and helps to teach healthy habits at any age. When you cook, you're paying attention to what you're eating and you're putting in the time and energy to do it yourself. Kids will love this quality time to learn your secret recipes and understand what it takes to make a healthy meal. You never know, this might spark some time to practice your laughing out loud too. Also, cooking together is always a romantic date night idea with your spouse because it is an entire process. You work together, building those communication skills, and then reap the benefits in a delicious meal over good conversation. 

We hope these tips make a difference in your day-to-day activities. Just keep your eyes peeled for ways to get moving. After a day in front of the computer screen or standing in line at the grocery store, activity feels good. It makes you feel better, and your emphasis encourages your children to place importance on it as well. We'd love to hear about the fun ways you get active and create healthy habits! Please share them with us.

If you live in the Charlotte or Nashville areas, we encourage you to join us by signing up at www.CharlotteParent.com or www.NashvilleParent.comThroughout the Fit Family Challenge, Charlotte Parent and Nashville Parent Magazines have each chosen two spotlight families to share their journey.  Each family will track their activity levels, goal setting and work with health and nutrition experts to meet their goals. In Charlotte, the Garfinkle family will challenge the Hill family. In Nashville, the Uphoff family will challenge the Saad family.  You can follow the Charlotte and Nashville families through their blogs and interviews to pick up tips and learn from their experiences.

 Eve White, a wife and mother of a 13-year-old, has been the editor of award-winning Charlotte Parent magazine since 2006, serving modern parents in the community with expert advice and real-life solutions.

For 20 years, Stewart Day has been publishing Nashville Parent Magazine to serve the needs of Middle Tennessee parents.  He is the father of four children, an avid hockey fan and has recently begun his own personal fitness challenge to lose 50 pounds.