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Health & Wellness
5 Tips to Making Family Exercise a Healthy Habit

How much exercise does your family get everyday? Between school, errands and the pull of electronic devices, it can be a challenge to ensure that everyone is building healthy exercise habits.

As a director for Johnson & Johnson’s Human Performance Institute, Jennifer Lea works with thousands of Fortune 500 executives a year to expand their energy and perform at their personal best, and she’s addressed audiences across the globe on the importance of movement, exercise and nutrition. As a result, Jennifer is acutely aware of the benefits that family exercise provides her and her children. She’s also discovered that family exercise gives her an excellent opportunity to step away from the distractions of everyday life and spend quality time with her sons.

Busy schedules and a lack of motivation to exercise are common challenges that every parent faces. Jennifer has found that the following 5 tips are key to incorporating regular physical activity into a child’s routine:

  1. Stay focused on play. If you call it exercise, kids are likely to avoid it or say they’re not interested. Weave exercise into your child’s day by making the activity more about play, rather than physical movement. Walk or bike to your neighborhood park instead of driving over, or play games like soccer or tag.
  2. Just dance. Dance parties are a common occurrence in Jennifer’s house because they’re fun, easy to initiate and are a perfect rainy day activity. As a bonus, your kids will love to see you relax and act silly. So turn on your family’s favorite tunes, push some furniture out of the way and get moving!
  3. Capitalize on competition. Kids love to compete with each other, so turn their favorite activities into a contest. See who can do the most push-ups or sit-ups in 30 seconds, run the fastest, or jump rope for the longest amount of time. Encouraging your child to push themselves and showing pride in what they can accomplish also provides a great chance to strengthen your bond.
  4. Tune in to your kids’ energy levels. Look for clues that your child may have excess energy to burn – are they being especially rambunctious indoors or having trouble sitting still? Instead of letting the behavior frustrate you, send them outdoors to run around the back yard or let them have a few minutes at your local park.
  5. Set an example. If you let your child see you prioritize exercise and physical activity, they will be encouraged to do the same. Find ways to incorporate them into your routine – let them do sit-ups and sprints right alongside of you.

Grounding your child’s play time in physical activity doesn’t have to be difficult. The most important thing is to make family exercise enjoyable and something you can do together. Ultimately, you’ll be strengthening your connection and reinforcing the family unit, which is just as important as the physical benefits you’ll receive.