Tackling Obesity Through Family Time

Finding fun things to with the kids that do not involve technology can challenging. Lots of young ones would like nothing better to do than plonk themselves in front of the telly with a bowl of chips, followed by a bit of game time on their devices. Explaining the benefits of family time and physical activity will no doubt produce some eye rolls and a little grumbling. Parents often find themselves pressed for time because of work, school, and family commitments, and if we’re being honest, most of us don’t relish the thought of exercise. Family time doesn’t need to cut into a huge chunk of your day or budget, and exercise doesn’t have to be an intense gym workout.

To get those little hearts, muscles, and motor skills roaring, we’ve put together a few fun and simple inexpensive family activities that will not only get you and the kiddos moving happily, but create some bonding time.

Kick a ball around the yard

At least 3 days a week, set aside 20 minutes or so to just muck about in the backyard with the kids. The latest report from the Australian Health Tracker reveals that over the last decade obesity rates in Australia have risen by 27%. It also showed that 1 in 3 Australian adults, 9% of young people and 4% of children are obese.

A simple game of footy or b-ball is healthy for everyone – it gets the blood pumping, lets the kid’s burn off excess energy, and sets the little ones up for healthy lifestyle habits.

Ditch the car ride

It’s so easy to pile the kids into the car and drive to shops for a pint of milk. If you can foot it to your destination safely, use your family muscle power by jumping onto the bike or walk to the park, library or school. To add to the fun, there are a lot of apps that work as a pedometer to track your steps and distance. You can note everyone’s progress on the family notice board or fridge, with healthy snacks as a reward. If you have competitive kids, beware that they may be waking you up at the crack of dawn for a morning walk. Which is not such a bad thing, plus, you’re doing the environment a favour.

Make yard work fun

It can be tough work, but someone’s got to do it. Yard work doesn’t need to be dull. Get the radio going, a pitcher of lemonade, and enjoy some seasonal yard work with the family. Toddlers will enjoy the sense of responsibility of undergoing a chore like everyone else, and many hands make light work.

Grow a garden

Vegetable patches are a good way to get the family to live and eat healthier. If you have enough space to give the kids their own little vegie patch, it will teach them responsibility and will make comparing growth rates of different garden produce fun. And the best bit? Kids are more likely to eat their hard-earned vegetables when they know it came from their own plot.

Even if you have minimal outdoor space, planting can be done in pots or lined up on the window sill. It’ll get kids outside, exposed to fresh air and a bit of dirt to build up resilience, and you’ll be doing your home a favour with the improved air quality that indoor plants provide. And last but not least, the kids will find a bit of magic in watching their little seeds grow.

Vitamin Sea

80% of Australians live close to the coast, so swimming is the most common physical activity most of us have grown up with. A day at the beach will ring up all kinds of physical activity without any of the grudging effort and it puts most of us in a happy place. Light swimming can help you burn up to 200 calories and studies have proven that it also assists those living with asthma.

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis can also benefit from sea minerals. If you’ve been feeling a little bit overwhelmed by the demands of family life, the sea is known to be full of anti-aging minerals, so get in there.

And perhaps one of the greatest benefits of the ocean is its time-tested feel-good properties. People are just happier after a day on the beach because it helps you de-stress, unplug and absorb that soul-soothing Vitamin D. If you have a moody teenager at home, beach therapy might be just the tonic required.

Even if you have minimal outdoor space, planting can be done in pots or lined up on the window sill. It’ll get kids outside, exposed to fresh air and a bit of dirt to build up resilience, and you’ll be doing your home a favour with the improved air quality that indoor plants provide. And last but not least, the kids will find a bit of magic in watching their little seeds grow.

Yoga

If asking you to contort your body for the half-moon pose is a bit of a stretch, mild yoga for you and the kids is beneficial for flexibility, posture, digestion, and blood flow. While we can’t promise tranquillity if you’re performing poses with a bunch of kids, we can promise some entertaining moments, especially if you have a toddler in the mix trying to do the downward dog.

Be sure to look up some safe and kid-friendly poses before you begin.

Start dancing

Dancing is a no-brainer when it comes to family physical activity. Right in the middle of chores? Blare the radio and get the kids to bust a move. Not only is dancing good for the heart, lungs, muscles, and bones, but low-impact cardio also boosts your overall health. Physical activity releases those happy endorphins, so get moving!

Get involved in community work

Dr Rosemary Calder of the Mitchell Institute Victoria University says that tackling obesity is a community issue, rather than an individual one. Something as simple as a local park clean up with neighbourhood friends or doing yard work for an elderly neighbour has fantastic benefits. It feels good, teaches kids about volunteer work, and strengthens community and family ties. It also nurtures responsibility and teaches kids about the importance of giving back.

Finding the time and motivation to keep active can be a task. In this technological age, it can be hard to connect with the kids and make family time for physical activity.

Can health insurance help?

If your family has private health insurance, check to see if your health fund has any reward programs for healthy living.

MyOwn is a fund that works in conjunction with AIA Vitality– A wellbeing program that rewards its members for nurturing healthy habits and choices. If you clock in enough walking time, or get a health check-up, or quit smoking, you are able to claim once you’ve reached a certain status.

Kids and parents alike will be able to benefit through discounted concert and movie tickets, and shopping vouchers from Myer, Woolworths and iTunes. You will be eligible to get discounted gym memberships, Fitbit devices, and a whole range of bonus benefits, while most importantly, maintaining a healthy and active family.

If you’ve been finding it difficult to find incentives to get the kids (and yourself) off the couch, call Health Deal on 1300 369 399 and enquire about AIA Vitality today.

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