Get Fit: Fitting in family fitness can be fun

By Erica Moe

Children with active parents are almost six times more likely to be active compared to children with inactive parents. When was the last time you were active as a family?

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend children engage in a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily. Adults should get a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week. What gets in the way? Things like limited physical activity time during school for kids, seated careers for adults and gadgets that ease daily living, such as remotes, dishwashers and sprinklers, which affect everyone in the family.

Activity doesn’t have to be long. Short bursts can add up to the total time. Be on the lookout for every opportunity. How many frog jumps does it take to get to the car? Let’s gallop like a pony to the next stop sign!

Active transportation

Most American children do not walk or bike to school. Since 1969, the proportion of elementary and middle school students walking or biking to school dropped from 47.7 percent to 12.7 percent. Encourage your kids to walk, bike, skateboard or scooter wherever you go, whether it’s picking up the mail or riding a bike while you go for a run.

Free play

The 2014 United States Report Card on Physical Activity for Children & Youth reports that children spent approximately 33 percent more time in moderate to vigorous activity during free play time than in organized activities like lessons. Playing tag or a pick-up game of dodgeball are fun ways to get moving. Be creative. How many different ways do you know to play tag? Let your kids choose the game and go! 

Wellness on wheels

You’re never too young to participate. If your children are not mobile, put them in the stroller and go. Pushing a stroller can burn up to 20 percent more calories! Use a backpack to involve the little ones in a family hike. Not only will you burn more calories, you will enjoy the experience together.


Spend more time in the pool instead of watching from the sidelines. Get in and get splashing with your kids. The water is not only fun, it is a great workout. Enjoy a game of pool basketball or noodle relay races. There’s no better way to cool off during a San Diego summer.

Video games: interactive family fitness

Can’t get outside to get fit? Make it happen inside.

It’s time to get your game on. Research shows you can get a workout as you play, so choose your favorite, like “Dance, Dance Revolution,” “Wii Sports” or “EyeToy.” Don’t have a gaming system? Tune in to the Fit TV channel or rent a dance video from your local library.

Your community

You can have fun with your children and receive the benefits of fitness. Team up with neighbors for friendly competition between families — the more, the merrier. At the playground, skip the benches and play together.

Find local opportunities that provide family fitness programming. At the Mission Valley YMCA, families with children ages 7 and up are allowed in the fitness center. In addition, an entire schedule of family-friendly group fitness classes is available.

—Erica Moe is an ACSM certified exercise physiologist who writes on behalf of the Mission Valley YMCA, where she is fitness director.

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