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Ask an Expert: Promoting Active Families

Joe Deutsch, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, NDSU

My kids are in several sports, so we spend a lot of time sitting and watching them at games. Do you have ideas to help us stay active as a family so my wife and I also stay in shape?

Staying active as a family is very important, and it can help turn physically active children into physically active adults.

One of the easiest ways to stay active as a family is to ride a bicycle or go for a walk. Whether it is to a game (such as baseball) or to the neighborhood park, families can ride or walk together and enjoy the weather while getting their exercise.

While at the park, families can engage in many enjoyable activities such as swinging on the swings or tossing a football back and forth in an open-grass area. Other more structured lifelong outdoor activities that can involve miles of exciting exercise include golfing and snowshoeing.

Did you know that playing the average nine-hole golf course involves four miles of walking? While a four-mile family walk may seem daunting, a family trip to the nine-hole golf course may be a lot of fun.

In a colder climate such as we have, parents often look for ideas to keep their children active during the winter months. You could take your family to the local family-friendly fitness facility for everything from an indoor playground to swimming or just shooting baskets.

You also can dress warmly and get adventurous by taking the family sledding, ice skating or cross-country skiing.

Exercise doesn’t always have to involve hard work, either. In fact, simply building a snowman is a great way for families to exercise together.

These are all fun family activities that require minimal equipment, get families the exercise they need and, just as importantly, build memories for a lifetime.

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