Healthy Habits for Kids: 3 Easy Ways to Stay Active as a Family

sunset man biking with two children
Bike rides are a great way to keep the whole family active.

by Mary Lambkin

You put your time in at the gym because you know it's important for your own health, so of course you'll want to encourage a healthy, active lifestyle for the people you love!

Developing healthy habits for kids at a young age is crucial. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the behaviors and habits developed at a young age can have a lifelong impact. Taking control of your and your family's health in a fun and non-stressful way can provide numerous benefits. The three activities listed below are great for families and can be adjusted depending on age and fitness level.

1. Family Games

Games like tag, hide-and-seek, follow the leader, hopscotch and jump rope are all great ways to get your heart rate up and have a good time. Try playing family-friendly games for 30 minutes before (or after) dinner outside in your backyard, at a local park or gymnasium.

You can challenge your children to a foot race at the end of your game as a "grand finale" and celebrate by letting the winner keep a trophy until the next contest. Not only does active play boost your fitness level, but according to the American Heart Association, it can also reduce stress, improve sleep, fuel your brain, improve relationships and help you stay flexible!

2. Family Excursions

If your kids hate being cooped up all day, take them on an active adventure. Get some fresh air on a family walk, jog or bike ride (or spend the day on an exciting hiking, swimming or skiing adventure). If it's a gloomy day, visit the gym, mall or an indoor activity center.

Instead of watching your kids run wild while you sit on the sidelines, join in on the fun yourself. By making exercise a priority for your family — no matter what the weather — you'll show your children how to get creative about ways to stay active, ultimately developing long-term healthy habits for kids.

3. Sports Leagues

You can also keep your kids active through team and individual sports, which not only improve physical health but can also boost psychological well-being. Many communities offer classes and leagues for children as young as one year old!

While your child learns discipline and control of their body through sports, you can use the opportunity to get active yourself. While the kids are in dance class or at soccer practice, consider heading to the gym. Or, join in their activity by volunteering to coach. Although it can be tempting to catch up on chores or run errands while your kid is at practice, you should take advantage of the alone time to focus on your own wellness.

By focusing on developing healthy habits for kids, you can also develop healthy habits for yourself. Stay active as a family and witness the long-term benefits brought on by just 30 minutes of activity a day. As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.