8 ways to be active as a family

June 30, 2015

It's crucial to be physically active when you have diabetes, but being the only member of the household who exercises is like, well, swimming upstream. But if you make physical activity part of your family's culture, everyone will benefit.

8 ways to be active as a family

1. Start a new family ritual

  • Take an after-dinner walk to the frozen yogurt parlor every Wednesday, or a family bike ride on the first Sunday of the month.

Soon enough it will become second nature to everyone — and something the whole family looks forward to.

2. Pick your own produce

  • Rally the troops, or at least grab your spouse and spend an early weekend morning gathering berries, apples, pumpkins or other produce at a "pick-your-own" farm.

You'll get fresher fruit and veg along with your fresh air and exercise. And at home, you can all enjoy the "fruits" of your labour.

3. Fix worn exercise gear

Nothing sidetracks a family bike ride faster than a flat tire or a loose chain.

  • Make it a point to keep your equipment in working order — that also means sharpening ice skates and restringing tennis rackets — and there will be one less barrier to keeping your family moving.

4. Try rollerskate lessons

Has it been a while since you've been on wheels? Call the local roller rink and sign your family up for lessons.

  • Believe it or not, rollerskating is pretty good aerobic exercise, and it's a fun group activity that your family can participate in year round. Once you feel confident enough, go for a spin outside.

5. Chart your expeditions

Here's a sure way to get your family excited about active exploring; in your family room, post a map that covers the areas in which your family typically vacations.

  • "Collect" mountains, lakes, rivers, trails and other geographical features by hiking, climbing or boating there during family trips.
  • Record these "conquests" by marking them on the map with pushpins.

On subsequent trips, your family will want to experience nature firsthand so that they can add pushpins to the map back home.

6. Give two legs to a good cause

Watch the local newspaper and community bulletin boards for announcements about fundraising events that'll make you get off your duff for charity — like walk-a-thons or five-K races — and participate in such events as a family.

  • Choose charities that are meaningful to your family.
  • For example, you might honour your mother's battle with breast cancer by walking in her memory and wearing T-shirts emblazoned with her photograph.
  • Not only will you benefit from the exercise, but you'll also create new social connections and feel good about helping worthy causes.

7. Adopt a street to keep it neat

Many community groups, like churches and service organizations, strike an arrangement with local governments in which they "adopt" certain sections of roadway. Several times a year, these groups organize crews to pick up litter along the roadside, bag it and deposit it at a trash collection site.

  • If you need some relief in the middle of the litter collecting, take a turn as the flag person who warns oncoming cars of the road crew ahead.

8. Embrace the trickle-up effect

  • If you have children in the house or grandchildren nearby, help them develop an interest in organized sports or in clubs, such as the Boy or Girl Scouts, that involve physical activity.

When the youngsters you're close to are active, you inevitably will become more active, too. How could you not, if you're helping Junior practice his Little League pitches, or helping your granddaughter practice her basketball shots for school tryouts?

These eight ideas can help the whole family be more physically active. That's good for them — and for your diabetes.

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