It can be tough trying to squeeze in quality time for your family while also finding space in your busy schedule to make physically activity a daily habit. Luckily there’s an easy solution: combine the two so that breaking a sweat and living healthily become a spirited family effort. Not only does it build a stronger family bond but it also builds muscle tone, increases life expectancy and it might even help your kids sleep a bit better! Not to mention that encouraging your kids to be active now means they’re more likely to grow up and become physically fit adults.

Need some inspiration? Here are inclusive ways for family members of all skill levels to make getting active together a new fun family tradition. We also share some easy tips on limiting screen time and partnering with your child's school. 

Model Positive Physical Activity

  1. Lead an active lifestyle yourself.
  2. Make family time physical activity time.
  3. Build physical activity into your family’s daily routine. Take a walk after dinner together or do housework or yard work together. 
  4. Use local, low-cost, or free places like public parks, woodlands, football pitches and MUGA courts to be active.
  5. Learn how engaging in outside activities can be fun and affordable for families. Embrace our natural resources & healthy outdoor activities for children and families across the country.
  6. Attend family nights or other physical activity events at your child’s school or local community centers.
  7. Be active whenever possible. Walk or ride bikes to school or the bus stop instead of riding in a car. Parents of young children can enjoy the walk or bike ride, too.
  8. Include physical activity breaks in events such as long car trips, vacations, or visits to relatives or friends. Bring along beach balls, kites, jump ropes, or other items that can be used for active play.

Help Children Be Active With Their Friends

  1. Instead of watching television or playing video games, encourage your children to be active with their friends by playing tag, basketball, or by riding bikes.
  2. Give your children toys that encourage physical activity like balls, kites, and jump ropes.
  3. Make special events physical activity events, such as activity-based birthday parties or other group celebrations.
  4. Encourage your children to join a sports team or try a new physical activity.

Encourage physical activity for young people

  1. Help young people participate in team or individual sports, as well as in non-competitive activities such as bicycling, hiking, jogging, and swimming.
  2. Be positive about the physical activities your children engage in and encourage their interest in new activities.
  3. Help children be physically active by taking them to and from activities and events or helping them find other ways to get there.
  4. Encourage children to talk about how physical activity makes them feel and how much fun they have when they are active

Limit “Screen Time” (time watching TV, playing video games, or using the computer)

  1. Know how much screen time you and your children are getting and then set limits for the entire family and that includes all devices such as phones, games, computers
  2. Children 2 years or older should spend no more than 2 hours a day watching TV, playing video games, and using the computer.
  3. Do not use screen time as a reward or punishment for your child
  4. Turn commercial breaks into activity breaks when watching TV.
  5. Do jumping jacks, pushups, or crunches or run in place during commercial breaks. Turn off the television during mealtime and homework time.
  6. Put the TV and computer in common areas like the living room instead of your child’s bedroom.

 

Partner With Your Child’s School

  1. Find out what physical activities are offered at your child’s school.
  2. Talk to the principal if you think there should be more physical education at your child’s school.
  3. Become a member of the school Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and advocate for increased physical education provision and becoming an active schools.
  4. Encourage the school to implement a comprehensive school physical activity program. This includes quality physical education, recess, before- and after-school physical activity clubs, walk- and bike-to-school programs, and school staff wellness programs.
  5. Help organize special events like walk-, dance-, or bike-a-thons, walk- or bike-to-school day, or a walking school bus.
  6. Volunteer to help with after-school physical activity programs or sports teams.

I manage Terenure Rangers under 12s football team who play in the Dublin and District Schoolboy League (DDSL).  I have been coaching the boys since they were six years old and it’s great fun.  It keeps me relatively fit and hopefully helps to keep me young!  As you can imagine the boys are bundles of manic energy and keeping up with them gets harder especially when I join in for the end of training 5 a side game.  It’s great to see their enthusiasm for football and hopefully I can pass on my love of the game to them.  I’ve been playing football all my life and find it a great way to keep fit, make friends and socialise.  We have had the same group of boys together now for the last six years and they are a great bunch.  I hope that they are all still playing football at some level when they are my age and that they get as much out of playing as I do.

 Maurice, Dublin