Did you know that one in three American adults, and one in six American children, are obese? Each new generation lives a more sedentary lifestyle than the last. A study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services detected a cause-and-effect relationship between screen time and obesity: high screen time averages correlate with high obesity rates. This evidence is not surprising but is certainly worrisome. American teenagers spend an average of nine hours a day in front of screens. Smartphones have essentially become teens’ full-time jobs, and most of them are working overtime.
It’s not too late to turn these stats around. Americans of all ages can change their lives by participating in daily recreational activities. Saturday, June 12, 2021, is National Family Health and Fitness Day. Below are nine fitness activity ideas that you and your family can participate in to celebrate. Our hope is that these activities show just how feasible daily exercise can be and inspire more families to incorporate fitness into their daily routines. And remember, MotivHealth’s Steps Program earns you a dollar toward your HSA for every day that you walk 8,000 steps or more, up to $250 per year.
Walking is one of the most underrated forms of exercise. When taken seriously, walking can burn 7-12 calories per minute. In order to maximize the benefits of walking, you’ll need to walk in your fat-burning heart rate zone. Determine this zone by subtracting your age from 220, then multiplying that number by 0.6. The result is the number of beats per minute (bpm) that you’ll need to keep your heart rate at in order to successfully burn fat. You can measure your current heart rate by lightly pressing your index and middle fingers to your wrist, or by lightly pressing the same fingers to the side of your neck, just below your jawbone. Count the number of beats you feel in a matter of 15 seconds (you can set a timer on your phone), then multiply that number by four: the result is your heart rate. You’ll want to keep your heart rate at the fat-burning bpm from your first calculation for at least 45-60 minutes in order to start seeing weight loss results over time. This means you’ll need to maintain a steady, brisk pace as you walk. There are many inexpensive heart monitors online that can make tracking and maintaining a fat-burning heart rate easy.
MotivHealth challenges you to take your family on a walk for an hour this Saturday. Invite the neighbors, bring your dog along, even bring the neighbor’s dog along (though it might be a good idea to get their permission first)—whatever it takes to keep you going for the full 60 minutes. Try sweetening water bottles with sugar-free flavorings to motivate your kids to stay hydrated. You might even celebrate at the end with a picnic of healthy snacks.
2. Bike Riding
The benefits of maintaining your fat-burning heart rate apply to bike riding as well. An additional advantage of cycling is muscle buildup. Once you build muscle, your body burns more calories, even while at rest. Riding a bike works your legs, back, and abdominals. And it doesn’t just benefit your physical health—bike riding reduces anxiety by increasing your ability to concentrate and releasing endorphins.
Bike rides are perfect for family members of all ages—just make sure you wear your helmets. If your little ones (or not-so-little ones) have yet to learn how to ride a bike, National Family Health and Fitness Day is the perfect day to get them started.
3. Jumping Rope
You’re never too old to jump rope. As a matter of fact, most fitness stores sell jump ropes along with the rest of their adult workout equipment. This is because jumping rope improves coordination, bone density, cardiovascular health, and breathing efficiency. You can jump rope alone in the privacy of your backyard or make an entire family event out of it. Click here to learn 15 jump rope tricks that will boost the fun in your workouts.
Ice skating isn’t just for the wintertime. Most local recreation centers maintain open ice-skating rinks year-round. Believe it or not, ice skating works out every muscle group in the body (many of which get worked out while trying to recover from a fall, but hey, if it works, it works). Enhance your ice-skating expertise with some basic figure skating moves.
Taking young children to the ice-skating rink may seem daunting. Try roller skating or roller blading first to improve their coordination. Start them off in an empty parking lot or driveway, then consider taking them to a roller-skating rink. Roller-skating rinks provide all the same physical benefits as ice-skating rinks with less likelihood of slipping.
If walking doesn’t cut it for your family, go on a hike instead and enjoy beautiful scenery. Walking at an incline takes the existing benefits of walking quite literally to the next level. It can raise your heart rate as high as running does, but with a lower risk of joint damage. Depending on the amount of time your family has and their fitness levels, Utah has 1452 gorgeous hiking trails. Click here to discover just a few. Whether your family hikes just a portion of Y Mountain or conquers all of Angel’s Landing, hiking is bound to burn some calories. Consider downloading the AllTrails app to find more hikes near you.
Famous for its many health benefits, swimming is the most refreshing way to get your workouts in this time of year. It raises your heart rate without impact stress, works out almost every single muscle in your body, alleviates anxiety, and can increase your lung capacity. Instead of getting fried by the sun as you supervise your children from the side of the pool, hop in the water and get involved in some creative pool games. Don’t forget to wear your sunscreen!
For those of you who aren’t afraid to get your groove on in front of strangers, many local rec centers offer Zumba classes that allow you to check off your daily cardio goals without the monotony of running on a treadmill. Zumba is an aerobic-heavy form of dancing. Like many of the other activities in this article, it is a full body workout. Among other benefits, it can improve your blood pressure, raise your pain threshold, and increase your endurance. It is a great way to make new friends, and it can be adapted to any fitness level so that your kids can get involved, too.
TV shows make yoga look like napping’s close relative, but the reality is that yoga takes a great deal of stamina. Most people are aware that yoga increases flexibility, but why is flexibility so important? It improves your mobility and posture and, most importantly, decreases the risk of injury in your daily life as you perform routine movement. Thanks to the internet, you don’t have to attend a public session in order to succeed at yoga. Check out videos such as this one and you’ll be mastering the splits in no time.
9. Rock Climbing
When many people hear “rock climbing” they picture belay ropes and life-threatening cliff edges. We’re not suggesting that you take your children on a perilous journey, but are once again pointing you in the direction of your local rec center. Many rec centers provide perfectly safe indoor rock-climbing walls for you and your kids to enjoy. Rock climbing is a whole-body effort that builds strength, improves coordination, and increases endurance. It is also a unique and challenging way for children to develop problem-solving skills, as they must constantly analyze which grip to place their hand or foot on next.
You have the power to change your family’s life with exercise. So put your electronics down and step outside. An exciting world of recreation awaits.