This summer, instead of lounging around in front of the TV bingeing on chips and soda, create an anything-but-sedentary summer vacation for your family—and yourself.
It’s easier than ever to spend hours and hours sitting in a living room not moving, much to the detriment of your kids’ health and wellness. However, there are ways to get them up and outside again.
Change the Environment
The biggest reason your kids watch that giant HD TV and play Call of Duty on Xbox Live is because it’s right there, and it’s easy. In fact, video games aren’t just in your home, they’re in your driveway, on your block and at your schools and summer camps.
Obviously, video games aren’t the only reason our kids sit inside all day. There are tons of factors like the weather and the examples they follow.
Examples that we set, even if we don’t realize it.
Change the Habit
Our children follow us more closely than we think. There is plenty of evidence that suggests our kids mimic bad behaviors like smoking, so why wouldn’t they mimic our good behaviors?
The simple act of taking your family on a bike ride, or a walk in the park, or down to the basketball court to shoot some hoops can have a profound impact on how they want to spend their own free time this summer and their future summers too. Especially if they see that patented hook shot you learned back in high school when you were the starting forward for your team (and just like that, you’ve made an impression).
You’ll also create memories that your kids will look back on throughout their lives. We can all surely remember a time when our parents took us camping, or swimming at the lake way up state, or down to the park to play soccer with the neighbors. Pass on those fond memories to your own kids.
Reinvent the Menu
It’s great that you’ll get out and spend some time together as a family, but what happens when you get back home? The food you eat has just as much impact on your family’s well-being as physical exercise.
It’s easy to get back home and wolf down soda and hotdogs and chips—it’s summer after all, and nothing beats grilling outdoors in the afternoon.
Try to choose healthy sides and entrees as often as you can. Obviously you won’t eat vegetarian meals every day, but a break from the pre-packaged, high-fructose, full-of-preservatives stuff is paramount. Nothing beats eating local fruits and vegetables, especially when you grow them in your own garden. The summer months are perfect for gardening, and it’s another chance to spend some time outside.
By serving healthy portions of healthy foods, you’re giving your kids’ a chance to develop into strong, athletic people. Oh, and healthy food makes us smarter too.
We all know what happens when we jump on the diet train; eventually, we fall off. However, when it comes to our kids, we’d do well to stay on the health and wellness train for life. So how do we keep these habits fresh and interesting for our ever-tempted youth?
Put an exclamation point on your summer vacation with an actual “vacation!” to somewhere fun that requires a bit of physical fitness. For example, if you head to the beach, rent a couple of cruisers and ride up and down the boardwalk, play some beach volleyball, and avoid eating at the breakfast buffet every morning. If you stay local and head to a state park, get out of the hammock and walk a few miles of trails.
When your kids see how much fun an active summer vacation is, unplug the TV. They won’t need it any more.
“Basketball Sky” Photo Credit: Chris Metcalf