Get moving as a family to create lifelong healthy habits

Paige Lantz, 10, and her mother Amanda participate in the Fit Family program (Photo by Jason Plotkin).

for Smart

Exercise doesn’t have to mean a collection of expensive equipment or hours spent at the gym.

Nor does it have to be difficult to include the entire family.

Getting off the couch and being active can be as simple as walking the dog or helping with household chores such as folding laundry.

The more you move, the more calories you burn. It’s that simple to get — and stay — healthy.

“It’s so hard for families to make exercise part of a ­routine,” said Chelsea Pritchett, program director for the YMCA of York County, Bob Hoffman and Eastern branches.

Ben Wolf, 9, and his mother Melisa exercise together.

Efforts to encourage exercise can be found on the local and national level, including the Fit Family program at the YMCA in Dover Township.

“The Fit Family program is a gateway to get them in the door and moving as a family and then get involved in other YMCA classes,” Pritchett said.

“Adolescents ages 10, 11, 12 are getting larger from sitting and watching TV, or playing on phones or the computer. The goal of the class is to get everyone motivated in the family.”

Studies have shown that play can help kids grow to be healthy, happy and successful. And if your kids see you being active, they will want to move more, too.

“Participating in physical activities as a family can be a fun way to get the family moving and stay healthy,” said Barbara Blatt, project manager at the Center for Nutrition & Activity Promotion, Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

Fit Family

    Details: Instructed by Bonnie Rehmeyer, parents and kids 9 and older work out together in a class consisting of a mix of cardio, strength and stretch.
    When: Every Monday from 7 to 7:30 p.m.
    Where: Bob Hoffman YMCA, 1705 Palomino Road, Dover Township, 717-292-5622
    Cost: Free for facility members, $20 for non-members.

How much exercise?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults need at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity — such as brisk walking — every week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups. Children need 60 or more minutes of physical activity each day. Three of those days should include some type of muscle-strengthening activities.

Tips for family fitness

  1. Take your dog on longer walks
  2. Ride bikes after dinner
  3. Park farther away from the store and walk
  4. Use the stairs whenever possible
  5. Dance with your children
  6. Walk your kids to school or walk to work
  7. Ask your kids to help with active chores
  8. Sign your kids up for community sports
  9. Play ball at the park
  10. Choose video games that get your kids moving, such as dancing or fitness games

— Source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Growing fitness initiatives

Organizations across the country are encouraging eating right and becoming active to fight a growing obesity epidemic. Available programs include:

  1. We Can! Energize Our Families:
  2. Bring on Play:
  3. Eat, Play, Breathe:
  4. Let’s Move, York City:
  5. PLAY 60 program:
  6. Produce for Kids:
  7. The President’s Challenge:
  8. Let’s Move:

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