Looking for a great way to get everyone moving? Train as a family to walk or run a 5K race.
Think about all the benefits: Working together toward a common goal helps keep everyone motivated to move. When you move more, your family will feel better mentally and physically. That helps everyone avoid unhealthy choices, like eating junk food. Your family will start to see the difference in the way healthy food makes them feel, giving them the energy they need to walk or run. And people who get exercise sleep better. What’s not to love?
If your family isn't all that active, give yourselves about 6-8 weeks to get ready. Find a "fun run" for your first race. These 5Ks are usually family- and kid-friendly with a mix of walkers and runners. Check at community centers, YMCAs or gyms, churches, running clubs, or online.
Once you have the race date set, post a chart on the fridge so family members can track their progress and see the countdown to the big day.
Whether you run or walk will depend partly on how fit your family is, and partly on the age of your kids. To run, kids should probably be at least 7 or 8 years old. If your goal is to walk the race and have fun, kids of any age can take part. Toddlers and younger children may have to jump in a stroller now and then. Check on any age rules or stroller guidelines set by the race organizer.
Remember, your real goal is to help your family fall in love with physical activity and make it a life-long habit.
"It's about being active in life. Start early and they'll get excited about it. It's not about the exercise," says exercise physiologist Anthony Wall. He is director of professional education for the American Council on Exercise. "It's about doing something as a family that's active and enjoyable."
How to Make It Fun
When you talk to your family about the 5K, be sure to talk about how it's fun; not that it's something they have to do.
"Don’t frame it as exercise. You're training them at a young age to think that exercise isn’t a chore. Frame it as 'let's go out for a run, a walk, or go to the playground,'" says Karen Morice, MD. She works for the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.
"You want to build up their endurance. You can do that in a lot of ways -- not just walking all the time. Whatever kind of activity gets them moving around for a sustained period of time."
Remember, if it's your first time, give yourselves about 6-8 weeks to get ready. Here's a week-by-week training guide.