There's no need to stress about how you’re going to squeeze physical fitness into your already hectic schedule. Every little bit counts, and the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines and ParticipACTION have plenty of suggestions on how to modify your family's daily routine, replacing sedentary time with activity from dawn till dusk.
In the morning
• Physical activity can be a better morning boost than caffeine. Set your alarm 10 minutes early, and devote the time to stretching or taking a short walk or bike ride to start off your day.
• Pack a skipping rope or baseball glove in your child's backpack to encourage active play at recess and lunch breaks.
• If you work close to home, leave the car and walk or bike in.
• If you take public transit, get off the bus a stop (or two) early.
• Driving to work? Park your car at the back of the parking lot and make up the distance on foot.
• Instead of driving the kids to school, start a "walking school bus" with other parents and take turns walking groups of neighbourhood kids to and from school. Encourage older children to walk or bike to school.
• Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.
• Instead of booking a boring old conference room, grab your colleagues for a "walking meeting" and discuss business while hitting the pavement.
• Instead of sending an email, walk across the office to relay a message to a coworker.
• Contract your stomach and back muscles, roll your shoulders and stretch your neck while sitting in your chair.
• Take a break from sitting once an hour, and set aside 10 minutes of your lunch break for a brisk walk.
• Organize a recreational softball or baseball team with your coworkers and join a league. Not only will this get you moving, it will foster teamwork and boost morale as well!
• Inquire about events and initiatives hosted by your workplace health committee that can help you achieve your fitness goals.
Making a list of fitness goals can help keep you focused. Fill out our "Plan for success" template to help keep you motivated.
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In the evening
• Make after-dinner walks a regular family activity. Circle the block or head to the park to toss a Frisbee or climb the monkey bars. Explore new streets and neighbourhoods to make it an adventure.
• Set limits on your children's screen time (from the television, computer, etc.). According to ParticipACTION, kids in households with established screen-time rules do indeed lead less sedentary lives.
• Take an evening fitness class, such as tai chi, yoga or step at the local gym or community centre. Try a class to see if you like it; many offer free trials before you have to sign up.
• Yard work doesn't have to be a chore. Make it fun by adding an element of play. Reward the child who rakes the most leaves by letting him or her choose what you'll have for dinner.
• Combine social time with active time by joining a friend for a brisk walk or run.
Find great tips on keeping your kids active here.
Do some digging
If your community promotes active living, it's easier for you and your family to establish healthy new fitness habits. Make the most of fitness supports and programs that are available in your community.
Explore your options by:
• consulting your local parks and recreation department's website
• calling to get information on the programs available at your local YMCA, YWCA, Boys and Girls Club or community centre
• checking out books and DVDs on physical activity and health at the library
• locating nearby parks and walking or cycling paths
• investigating organized activities in your community, such as community walks or runs
Be an active living advocate
If you find there are not enough opportunities or supports for physical activity in your community, speak up! ParticipACTION and the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines suggest getting involved with your local parks and recreation committees, and encouraging local politicians and community leaders to introduce or maintain the following:
• bike paths and lanes, well-lit walking trails, pedestrian- friendly neighbourhoods and secure bike parking
• community parks, play structures and other facilities for physical activity
• workplace policies that support active living (these include discounted gym memberships, bike parking and flextime to take fitness classes)
• physical education in schools, along with the proper fitness facilities, such as pools and well-equipped gyms
Don't forget to eat right. Try our Healthy Recipe Search to find nutritious recipes your whole family will love.
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