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Exercise together for fun and good health

Make it seem like play and your kids will jump on board

Exercise together for fun and good health

The family that exercises together stays healthier together. However, in order to successfully engage the whole family, it helps to make exercise fun by incorporating other activities into your routine.

With obesity in both adults and children seemingly rising out of control, family exercise and other activities can help head-off health problems.

We've all heard about the risks of becoming overweight or obese, including developing diabetes, heart disease, and even psychological problems. Luckily, parents can take steps now to prevent such ailments from becoming realities for themselves and their kids.

Experts at the University of Michigan Health System advise that parents can teach their children by example to get up, get out and together make exercise fun.

Taking family walks or bike rides are just a few simple ways to get everyone physically involved and interacting. Plus, it helps parents to teach their kids how to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.

One of the easiest ways to get the family moving is to encourage playing outside during the day. Limit unhealthy habits like watching television, playing video games or sitting at the computer inside, which keep children indoors and inactive.

"Limiting the amount of TV children watch, video games they play or the amount of computer time they have is really an important part of the parents' responsibility to get their kids moving," said exercise physiologist Audrey Hazekamp.

READ MORE: Healthy bodies, healthy brains

Some helpful keys to motivating family exercise include:

Fit Family Tip #1 Find out what your children like to do and make this a focus of your family activities.

Fit Family Tip #2 Keep the word "exercise" out of your vocabulary. Instead, promote "play time" and encourage activities that are fun and physical such as hop-scotch, jumping rope, tag or hide-and-go-seek.

Fit Family Tip #3 Use family walks or bike rides as a time to do more than just exercise together.

Fit Family Tip #4 Try planning social outings to involve physical activity such as taking the family out dancing or roller-skating.

Fit Family Tip #5 Make it a rule to leave the television off one day a week. This encourages physical activity and outdoor play.

Fit Family Tip #6 Don't make exercise a chore or work; keep it light and enjoyable.

Fit Family Tip #7 Vary the activities, and let your children take turns choosing what the family will do.

Fit Family Tip #8 Trips to the park, zoo or miniature golf course can be fun and involve a lot of walking.

Fit Family Tip #9 Try to be available as much as possible when your children play games such as tag, capture the flag, or kickball.

"Bringing in other kids will make exercise look more like play while creating a fun atmosphere for physical activity," added Hazekamp.

For more information on other health-related topics, visit www.med.umich.edu online.

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